Rozafa: A Psychoanalytic and Symbolic Interpretation (2005, The Netherlands) by Blerina Berberi
Introduction p. 4
1. Rozafa p. 5 – 6
2. Analysis p. 6
2.1. Interpretation of some Symbols in Rozafa p. 7 – 19
2.2. The depth psychological contents of Rozafa p. 19- 24
3. Conclusion p. 24 – 25
Reference bibliography p. 26
I am most grateful for the encouragement and advice for exploring this beautiful story to Dr. Maria Kardaun.
Special thanks to my family and relatives in Shkodra.
In contrast to many Western countries, Albanians call their country, motherland. The woman is a very respectful character throughout Albanian history. The female character has always been shown as amiable toward their family, and especially toward their husbands in times of war after they returned safely back home. Nevertheless, during war times women have fought too, side-by-side with other men.
The Albanian Collection of Old Stories presents ballads and folk rhapsodies, which have their origin in the Illyrian times.
As Kuteli advocates, the legendary and historic songs aim in presenting the highest values of the country, which are bravery and the invincible resistance against the enemy to protect the country and honor.
Some of the stories are about war and heroes, who really fought against enemies to protect their honor and the honor of their family, friends, and that of the country. The character of the heroes shows their good and bad characteristics. But what now has remained is just the ‘skeleton’ of the songs, the story, while poetry is lost (Kuteli, 1987, p. 6).
Rozafa is the story of a castle and that of a mother and bride. As many other castles in Albania, the one in Shkodra, which holds the name of Rozafa, has an
interesting and perplexing story. Throughout this paper, Rozafa is interpreted firstly on the symbolic meaning of different elements in the story, which is basically a complex net of different systems of beliefs. Since the symbolic meaning does not presently bear too much meaning because of the different beliefs at the present,thus different questions raised by the story are difficult to answer. Therefore, the interpretation is followed by a more accurate understanding of Rozafa by the application of Carl Gustav Jung depth psychology theory, with an emphasis in the mother complex and anima, which provides a clearer meaning and explanation of the story. The following quote by Jung is crucial to the interpretation of the story and will be explained in the coming pages:
“How else could it have occurred to man to divide the cosmos, on the analogy of day and night, summer and winter, into a bright day-world and a dark night-world peopled with fabulous monsters, unless he had the prototype of such a division in himself, in the polarity between the conscious and the invisible and unknowable unconscious? (Jung, 1968, p.101)
National History Museum, Tirana
Rozafa is the story of a woman, mother, wife and that of a castle, a city, country and its people. This story is believed to have been created before the foundation of the city of Shkodra, which was founded in the 4th century B.C. Nowadays, the castle of Rozafa is to be found in one of the mountains of this city, northern Albania, close to the river of Buna which ends in the shores of the Adriatic sea.
Briefly, the story is about three brothers who wanted to build a castle but it was ruined during the night. Only the sacrifice of the youngest bride, called Rozafa,
made the walls stand even until the present times. Moreover, this story is orally passed through generations, and is believed to have been a rhapsody since there is a lot of repetitive elements and the “o” element, which increases emotional chanting.
However, what remains today is the following story (Kuteli, 1987, p. 7-11):
The mist covered the Buna river for three days and three nights. After three days and three nights the wind blew the mist up to the hill of Valdanuz. On the top of that hill there were three brothers building up a castle. The wall they built during the day collapsed during the night, so they could not built it higher.
There passes an old wise man and says: Good job, o three brothers!
The brothers, reply: Thank you. But where do you see our good job? We work during the day and at night the wall collapses. Can you tell us any good and wise word; what can we do to build up these walls? The old man replies: I know but it’s a sin for me to tell it to you.
The brothers: Put that sin unto us (our heads) because we want to make this castle stand up.
The old man thinks and then asks: Are you married, o brave men? Do you have your three brides?
The brothers: We are married and we have our three brides. Just tell us what do we have to do in order to built this castle.
The old man: If you want to build the castle and make the walls stand, you have to give your oath: Don’t tell your brides, don’t talk at your house about what I will tell you. The one of the three brides who will come to bring you the food (lunch) tomorrow, you have to immure (wall up) her alive in the wall of the castle. Then you will see that the wall will rise and continue to exist forever.
The old man said this and left. The older brother didn’t keep the promise (besa: oath) and he told his bride about the story so she would not come the next day. The middle brother did the same, he told everything to his bride. Only the younger brother kept his promise, he did not tell anything to his wife.
In the morning the brothers wake up early and go to work. The hammers hit, the rocks break, the hearts beat, the walls get higher…
At home, the mother of the sons doesn’t know anything.
She says to the oldest son’s bride: The masters want bread, water and wine.
The older son’s bride replies: Dear mother, I cannot go today because I am ill.
She asks the middle brother’s bride: The masters want bread, water and wine.
She replies: Dear mother, I cannot go today because I have to go and visit my family and relatives.
The mother asks the younger son’s bride: You, young bride…
She stands up immediately and says: Yes, mother!
The mother says: The masters want bread, water and wine.
The young bride replies: Dear mother, I would go but I have to take care of my young son. I’m afraid he will need me and cry.
The other brides say: You can go, we will take care of him.
The young bride, Rozafa, takes the bread, water and wine, kisses her son in the chicks and goes at the brothers. She salutes them: Good job, o masters!
But the hammers don’t hit the rocks and the hearts beat strong. Their faces get pale.
When the young brother sees his bride, he puts away his hammer and curses the rock and the wall. His bride says: What is it my dear? Why do you curse the rock
and the wall?
The older brother says: You were born on a bad (black) day. We have agreed that we have to immure you alive in the wall of the castle.
She replies: I wish you health, my dears. But I have to leave you my will: when you will immure me, you have to leave outside the wall my right eye, right hand, right leg, and my right breast because my son is young and when he will cry I shall watch him with one eye, with one hand I shall pat my son, with one leg I shall wiggle his bed and with one breast I shall feed him. I will get immured, the castle will stand high, and my son will become a brave king.
They take the young bride and immure her at the wall. The walls rise higher and they do not collapse as they did before. Nowadays, the wall is wet because there continues to drop the tears of the mother for her son…Her son grew up, fought wars and reigned bravely.
And this is how the story of Rozafa ends. But Rozafa’s sacrifice contributed not only to the existence of the walls of the castle that protected Rozafa’s family (family member in Albania, is everyone who lives under the same roof) but it also secured the other people of the generations to come from the abominable enemies.
The study of symbols is sometimes considered to be a weak interpretation in trying to understand the human character, events, culture and history. Maybe nowadays, such a type of interpretation is considered not a ‘scientific’ explanation. But centuries ago people did not know about science, and their culture was a grid of symbols in which they held their beliefs. Therefore, in order to understand Rozafa, the first tentative is its interpretation according to the ancient people’s beliefs in the symbols.
After that, by ‘exercising’ depth psychological theories we can understand their creation, meaning, and life. The most crucial theory to be applied is that of Jung, while Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex is merely a small contribution to an alternative.
2.1. Interpretation of some
of the Symbols in Rozafa
As can be noticed from the story of Rozafa, there are a lot of symbols, which we have to believe to be pagan since Christian-ism was not yet founded at the time the story was created. These pagan symbols, however do correspond to a certain extent with the Christian ones, since Christianity evolved from pagan religions and similar elements are found in them. Nevertheless, other religions and beliefs do contribute to the following interpretation. This interpretation tends to dehumanize the story by focusing on the interpretation of the possible pagan and Christian symbols.
Some of the questions, which come up from, this story are: Where is the father of the brothers? Who was the man that confessed the secret of the castle to the
brothers? Why the younger brother kept his oath, and the other older brothers did not? And why was Rozafa, not any other person or object, sacrificed? This questions will be answered later on, but now let’s see the interpretation of the symbols.
Rozafa starts with a mist, which had covered the river for three days and three nights, being blown by the wind in a hill where the three brothers were working on the wall of the castle. The mist is thought of being vague but it still brings new shapes. In more details the mist is interpreted as such:
“Symbol of the indeterminate, of a phase in development when shapes have yet to be defined or when old shapes are vanishing and have yet to be replaced by definite new shapes. It is also a symbol of the mixture of Air, Water, and Fire which existed prior to the creation of solid matter…as it was before the six days’ Creation and before all things were given their shape…mists are regarded as preludes to important revelations, prologues to manifestation. … Also God when he met Moses said that he came with a thick Cloud in order for the people to hear while he speaks and believe for ever (Exodus 19:9)” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 661)
Therefore, the mist will bring new shapes and in Rozafa’s context it means that it will give a definite shape to the castle. The Christian interpretation suggests that there was mist for six days before the world was created. Since the mist had covered the river for three days and three nights, thus six days, it can be already acknowledged that in the seventh day the castle will be created. In the story it is also stated that the next morning Rozafa had to be sacrificed in order to keep the walls standing. Since in Exodus, God appears with a Cloud or mist, it can be also possible that the mist in Rozafa symbolizes God, or the father of the brothers, who is missing in the story.
Furthermore, the old wise men that appears after or with the mist, tells the secret to the brothers which will make the wall and the castle stand. It is possible to think of this old man as God or his Holy Spirit, shown in the form of man, since he is the only one who knows the secret.
But why did the mist stand on the river and not immediately appear on the hill, at the castle? The river is believed to have some features, which maybe were necessary for the ‘mist’ to have them in order to get blown up by the wind at the top of the hill.
The river is:
“The symbolism of rivers and running WATER is simultaneously that of ‘universal potentiality’ and that of ‘the fluidity of forms’, of fertility, death and renewal. The stream is that of life and death.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 808-810)
The mist, which would bring the definite shape of the castle, was mixed with some predicting elements for the story, which would bring life and death. As we know, the brothers by walling up Rozafa secured the continuation of life for the coming generations and that of her child, husband and relatives.
Since the mist was blown up in the hill by wind, let us see the interpretation of the wind:
“…it is a symbol empty- headedness, fickleness and instability. … On the other hand wind is synonymous with BREATH and consequently with the Spirit, a heaven-sent spiritual influx…God’s messengers. Wind even gives its name to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God moving across the face of the primordial WATERS is called Ruah, ‘Wind’ … Winds were also the instruments of God’s power, bringing life, punishing and teaching.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 1110-1112)
The empty- headedness, fickleness and instability are characteristics that can be attributed to the two older brothers who did not keep the oath. The other
interpretation holds that the Spirit of God, its messengers, brought up the mist to the hill. Since the mist, coming from the river, brought an old wise man then in Christian interpretation that would mean that wind, the Holy Spirit, has brought God or just God’s instruments which are bringing life, punishing and teaching. In this case it seems that the younger brother was punished and his bride Rozafa brought life to the next generations, while the other brothers were taught by this event. But why would God “punish” the younger brother since he was the only one who kept the promise? This interpretation would be more correct if we would consider the role of the female in Christian religion that is in general devalued. Thus the punishment might have been directed to Rozafa herself and not to any of the brothers.
Another symbol in the story are the three brothers. We can ask, why they were three? The three brothers can be related to the three lords in Classical mythology, which were lords of the Universe: Zeus, lord of Heaven; Poseidon, Lord of the Sea; and Hades lord of the Underworld. The Earth belongs to all of them.
It can be possible that the younger brother symbolizes Zeus since he through his Faith in the old man made possible the unification of the Heaven and Earth, through the sacrifice of Rozafa. While the other two lords who have kind of negative characteristics might be said to be the other two brothers, whose presence then might be thought as being the cause of the instability of the castle and the walling up of Rozafa. Still, the number three has other interpretations. According to Chevalier and Gheerbrant, three also symbolizes:
“…the culmination of manifestation, since Man, the son of Heaven and Earth, completes the Great Triad…Three theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.993)
The three theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity do somehow correspond with each of the brothers’ character. The younger brother might be Faith, since he kept his oath while the other two brothers, each of them, might have Hoped that the other brothers will not tell to their brides but keep the oath, so the sacrifice will be done by another brother. It can also be said that the older brothers showed Charity toward their brides in order not to get immured, walled up. In the Christian context it can be believed that the creation of Man, which is the son of Heaven and Earth, would not be accomplished without the (half) female element, Rozafa. The creation of Man might even stand for the castle in this story, which had the masculine element from the work of the three brothers but missed the female aspect.
So far we know, that the mist had covered a river, was blown in the hill and there were the three brothers working on the wall of the castle. The hill is interpreted as:
“…the first manifestation of the creation of the world, standing high enough to be set apart from the primeval Chaos…” ( Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 506)
This means that the hill symbolizes the possibility of creation since it is set apart from the old and starting Chaos, but what was actually necessary in its creation was the ‘message’ of God sent by his messenger or the presence of God to reveal the secret to the brothers and of course the female element, thus Rozafa’s sacrifice. The presence of the old man might also, as stated before, symbolize the ‘ghost’ of their father, which they did not recognize maybe because they did not know him since he might have died or left home when they were really young.
The three brothers in the story are trying to build a castle. The castle is commonly perceived as a symbol of protection. In more details:
“The castle, fortress or stronghold is the near-universal symbol of humanity’s inner refuge, the CAVERN of the heart, that place of privileged intercourse between the soul and its God, or the Absolute. The Psalmist compares God himself with such a stronghold…. They are symbols of protection. … Thus castles are placed among the symbols of transcendence…Spiritual transcendence is the castle’s protection. …The ‘white castle’ is a symbol of achievement, of destiny perfectly fulfilled and of spiritual perfection.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.161-162)
This interpretation acknowledges that castles include mysteries as this one about Rozafa. By taking into account the interpretation of the castle as the intercourse between soul and its God, the question would be: Whose soul was to have intercourse with God? Apparently, was Rozafa’s (half?) soul. So did God in order to make that castle stand, needed the sacrifice of Rozafa and intercourse with (half?) her soul? Possibly, but not necessarily. In perspective the castle would protect and secure also the three brothers, the other two brides, the mother of the brothers, Rozafa’s son and the other generations to come. Thus Rozafa’s sacrifice aim was to establish the continuous God’s spiritual transcendence with the rest of humanity.
The castle of Rozafa is a white one. Even though it is considered to be a hill in relation to the high surrounding mountains, it is still formed of white rocks that the hill itself has. According to Chevalier and Gheerbrant, the achievement in building this castle would mean that a destiny is fulfilled and that there is a spiritual perfection. The creation of the castle and its destiny are explained by the white color but the spiritual perfection is an element, which required the (half?) soul, half body, or other elements of a female.
The main problem in the story that the three brothers had, is building the wall of the castle. The wall is:
“…the enclosure which guarded and shut in a world to avoid the invasion of evil influences originating at some lower level. Walls had the disadvantage of restricting the realms which they enclosed, but the advantage of ensuring their defense while leaving the way open for the reception of heavenly influences…. In Ancient Egypt the symbolic properties of a wall were based upon its height, since it bore the meaning of rising above ordinary levels. However, the building of fortresses means that the first sense was also present in the defense of frontiers” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.1076).
According to Chevalier and Gheerbrant, the cracks in a wall mean that there are diabolic influences. These diabolic properties ‘forbidding’ the wall to stand up seem to have a ‘condition’, which is the sacrifice of Rozafa. Another interpretation can be that the mist that came up in the hill and the ‘confession’ of the old man about the secret of the castle could mean that it was the ‘will of God’ to let this castle be built,
since the creation of this castle would bring in the future the people living there closer to Heaven, and above ordinary levels as the Ancient Egyptians believed.
Still, walls are also interpreted as such:
“Walls are interruptions to intercommunication with their twofold psychological repercussions- security which stifles and protection which imprisons. In this context, wall symbolism may be related to the passive and female aspect of that of the womb”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.1077)
Since walls, as the female aspect of the womb, are passive we can state that the sacrifice of Rozafa was necessary since her female side of the body, or just her female characteristics are the ones that the wall did not have so far but would be appropriated by her being walled up. Nevertheless, the wall is considered to be a defense, which of course would strengthen the self and existence of the coming generations.
The figure of the old man, which it seems to have appeared during the mist, up in the hill is apart from the previous interpretation that it can be the Holy Spirit, God himself, or the Father of the three brothers, is explained in relation to old age as such:
“Where old age is regarded as a sign of wisdom and righteousness- priests were originally old men, in the sense of wise men who gave guidance…old age has always been respected, this is because it is the image of longevity, of experience and wisdom acquired over the years, itself no more than a flawed image of immortality.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 715)
The old age seems to give no real indication of who might have been the old man. But the attributes that this man has such as immortality, longevity, etc., can be regarded as those of God or Holy Spirit. So it can be possible that God disguised as human appeared to the brothers and told the secret. If this old man would be the ghost of the Father, it would have been possible that the brothers would have recognized him. In general, the ghosts of know persons do appear in the same image, as they were alive, thus not disguised, as is also the case in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Most interestingly the old man asked from the three brothers to keep the oath of the secret he told. The oath, which in Albanian is called Besa, in the Albanian tradition is believed to be a very important action or element of the culture among people. Even at the present, giving the word or keeping the oath, besa, is considered a valuable factor in relationship with friends and other people. However, as Kuteli states in the introduction, in all the stories people are described as having also bad characteristics.
Anyway, the oath’s symbolic interpretation is as follows:
“An oath may be seen as the symbol of an accord with whatever being, divine, cosmic or human, who has been invoked as surety.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant,
As we know, only the youngest brother kept the oath. Earlier on, it is stated that the younger brother, who might represent Faith, did not tell his bride about what the old man said. If the old man is believed to be God or Holy Spirit, disguised as a human, it would be contradictory that they knew a secret and that was a sin if they told it. It is possible that this was just a test in order to have as a sacrifice something, which came by Faith in God, and consequently would be more pure, pristine and valuable, as Rozafa was by being willing to sacrifice under the condition of also serving to Heaven, God and Earth, her son and future generations. Furthermore, this interpretation can be sustained also by the interpretation of sacrifice, which is:
“The sacrifice is set apart, too, from the rest of the world which remains profane, separated from itself and given to God as a token of dependence, obedience, repentance or love. …Sacrifice is a symbol of the ‘renunciation of the ties of Earth through love of the spirit’ or of the godhead. …Sacrifice is linked to the notion of interchange on the level of spiritual or creative energy. The more valuable the material object, the more potent will be the spiritual energy given in return, whether the object of sacrifice be purification or propitiation. …In the Old Testament, the act or motion of sacrifice symbolizes human recognition of God’s supremacy”(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 818- 819).
Thus the younger brother, who might have not known what the old man represents, which might be God or the Holy Spirit, by keeping the oath ‘recognized God’s supremacy’. This kind of recognition did of course cause his bride, Rozafa, to be sacrificed as ‘the more valuable object’. So far it appears that Rozafa was the right sacrifice to be done, since her husband was the one who was faithful to God, Holy Spirit, and she was the most valuable bride, which would make the castle stand.
In the story, the father figure is missing, but the mother figure is very important since she is the one who ‘commands’ the brides at home. She also asks them to send water, wine and bread to the masters. These three elements, water, bread and wine are interpreted as such:
Bread- “…plainly the symbol of basic nourishment. …bread is the nourishment to his (man) spiritual nourishment, to Christ in the Eucharist, the ‘bread of life’. This is the ‘sacred bread of eternal life’ of which the Catholic liturgy speaks. … Traditionall BETHEL, the ‘House of God’, the STONE set up by Jacob, became ‘House of Bread’.
The House of Stone is changed into the House of Bread, that is to say, the symbolic presence of God is changed into the physical presence of God as spiritual food…”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 118)
This interpretation of the symbol of bread means that the bread brought to the masters by the bride would basically nourish them, and it will also give ‘eternal life’
to the brothers. It can be possible that the intention of the mother to send bread to her sons, masters, building the castle would make the castle the ‘House of God’ by changing the physical presence of God, which can be the old man, into a spiritual food. But of course that does not seem to suffice the walls of the castle to stand. Thus we can state that the exchange for the ‘spiritual food’ in this case is Rozafa being
immured in order to make the wall stand, but it can also be that the spiritual food would be the Faith that the older brothers would have in the future. The other element which was to be sent to the brothers, is water, which means:
“It is a source of life, a vehicle of cleansing (purification) and a center of regeneration (life). …In Jewish and Christian tradition, water in the first place symbolizes the beginnings of creation. …As the source of all things, water makes manifest the transcendent and from this very fact should be regarded as a revelation of holiness.
…Water is the source both of life and of death, is creator and destroyer.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 1081- 1082)
Once again, as is also the symbol of the river interpreted, which holds the elements of death and life, the symbol of water stresses the idea of creation and destruction, life and death. Since water also symbolizes the beginning of creation, purification and life then it is possible to admit that these elements might have been sent to purify the spirit of the two older brothers who did not keep the oath. But it is also possible that water was not sent just for the masters working in the hill, but maybe as elements of a ritual. But before we jump to conclusions, let’s see what wine symbolizes. Chevalier and Gheerbrant state:
“…wine is the beverage of life or of immortality. Especially, but not exclusively, in Semitic tradition it is in addition the symbol of knowledge and of initiation, because of the INTOXICATION which it causes. …In Chinese secret societies, rice wine was mixed with blood for their member oath-taking and, as the communal drink, allowed members to reach ‘the age of one hundred and ninety’. Such, too, is the significance of the chalice with the ‘blood of Christ in the Eucharist and prefigured in the sacrifice of Melchizedek. This brings us back, too, to the idea of sacrifice which may at the same time be that of the abandonment of self-restraint associated with intoxication.
…Wine as the symbol of knowledge and initiation… To St Clement of Alexandria, wine was to bread what the contemplative life and gnosis were to the active life and faith…In Old Testament tradition, wine was first and foremost a symbol of joy and then, in more general terms, of all gifts which God lavishes upon mankind.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 1113)
These three elements bread, water and wine might have been just nourishment for the brothers, or maybe were elements needed as an omen for the event to come, or possibly a sign of the ritual that is necessary in order for an event to occur. The mother did not know anything about the old man’s secret and her sons’ oath. It would also be possible to interpret these three elements as each of these corresponding to each of the three brothers characters.
Rozafa’s will as she herself states is to nourish and take care of her young child.
What is important here is not just the parts of her body that were left out of the wall, but also the idea of her right side of the body being left out. Since Rozafa is very old, and was created during the pagan beliefs in that region the first and best explanation would be according to the Celts:
“Whatever follows its (sun’s) path is ‘right’, whatever goes in the opposite direction is ‘left’ ” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.802)
The Celts also believed that right was lucky and a good omen. But relating this belief in the Sun with the previous interpretation in the beginning of the story is difficult since it is basically more Christian. Anyway, according to the Christian tradition, right is considered to be:
“In the Old Testament, to look to one’s right hand is to look towards the side upon which one’s protector stands (Psalm 142: 4). …The left is the direction to Hell, the right that of Heaven. Some Rabbinical commentators explain that Adam, the first man, was hermaphrodite, his right side being male and his left female. When God created ‘male or female’ he split him down in the middle. This tradition affected medieval Christian thought, which held that the left side was the female side and the right, the male. …To the Ancient Greeks, the right was the side ‘of the arm which shakes the spear’ (Aeschylus, Agamemnon 115). …Good omens appeared on the right hand, which symbolizes strength, skill and success. …In Western Christian tradition, right has the connotation of the active and left of the passive.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 801- 804)
Pagan God, Ancient Illyrian
The right side of Rozafa’s body would mean that it was left out of the wall, not in shadow, in order to have the property of looking at the protector, God or being in the direction of Heaven. Since the pagans believed that the ‘protector’ was the Sun, we can once again claim that Rozafa’s right side of the body would look to the Sun since it was not immured. By referring to the Rabbinical commentators, since Adam’s right side was male and the left female, it would be possible that Rozafa’s right side was the male part. If the old man was God or the Holy Ghost, then this sacrifice by Rozafa was meant to give to God back his male part that he had given to the female. But the Ancient Greeks’ interpretation would definitely fit with Rozafa’s will as nourishment and care of her son with her strongest side of the body, thus the right side that would make her son brave and successful. Since the right posses better qualities compared to the left, and the right is active and presents the future, we can infer that her will would be fulfilled.
Rozafa explains her will, by stating that her right eye would watch her son when he will cry, with her right hand she will patty her son, with one hand she will wiggle his bed, and with one breast she will feed him. This seems to be a very logical reasoning including all the functions of the parts of the body in relation to taking care of her son, but let’s take a look at what these elements symbolize:
Eye– “It is only natural that the eye, the organ of visual perception, should almost universally be takes as a symbol of intellectual perception.” (Chevalier/
Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 362 )
This intellectual perception would be one the ‘gifts’ that Rozafa would offer to her son. Furthermore, Chevalier and Gheerbrant advocate that the eye is also the divine knowledge, which unifies God with the soul and the First Cause with manifestation. That would mean that Rozafa would be the soul and the manifestation.
The other part of Rozafa’s body is the hand. The hand is interpreted as power, royalty, God’s right hand with mercy, etc. More specifically the hand is:
“The hand expresses ideas of action, as well as those of power and dominion. …The hand is an emblem of royalty, an instrument of command and a sign of dominion. …Traditionally, God’s left hand is concerned with justice and his right hand with mercy… The right hand is the hand which blesses. …In both Old Testament and Christian traditions the hand is the symbol of power and of supremacy. To be touched by the hand of God was to receive the manifestation of his spirit. When the hand of God laid hold of a man, the latter received into himself divine strength. (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 466- 470)
By following this interpretation, Rozafa’s right hand would command her son and give him power and dominion. In relation to the ‘emblem of royalty’, the right hand would define her son’s future as becoming a king. In the same time, Rozafa’s right hand would bless her son and if her right hand which was the right direction of the Sun, the male part, the more active, skilful one, etc., would be touched by the God, or maybe it would pass the divine strength to her son.
The other element is the leg. Chevalier and Gheerbrant advocate:
“The limb for walking, the leg is a symbol of social bonding. It allows individuals to approach one another, promotes contact and removes separation and therefore derives its importance from the social order. … By extension, the leg is to the body of society what the penis is to the human body. It is the instrument of maternal and social relationships…Like the penis, the leg is a symbol of life. …To bare one’s leg means to display one’s power and virility.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 594)
The leg as the symbol of life and of social bounding clearly states the relationship of Rozafa with her son who wanted to be half alive to take care of her son and continue to live. The last interpretation which states that ‘baring one’s leg displays power and virility’, does supplement the idea, as mentioned before, that Rozafa’s right side is actually her male part. Virility and power would be the main elements that she shows to her son, which will influence his becoming in the future. But Rozafa has also a female symbol on her right side.
The last element that Rozafa wills not to be walled up is the breast. The breast is related as in contrast with the leg, more to the female characteristics. More specifically:
“The symbol of protection and of measure(ment). …The breast is connected with the female principle, that is to say with measure in its sense of restriction, since measurement is restricted to the object measured. This is in contradiction to the male principle, which is limitless and measureless. The right breast symbolizes the Sun, the left the Moon. But above all breasts are symbols of motherhood, comfort, security and plenty. They are connected with fertility and with MILK, the first nourishment, and associated with pictures of intimacy, giving and protection.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996,p. 118)
Here, again, the right breast symbolizes the Sun. As Rozafa willed, with her right breast she would feed her son and give protection. The idea of measurement and restriction can be interpreted as an intensive caution to her son’s development, which might also have negative effects in the future. But since the story end with her son becoming a brave warrior, this interpretation would not fit in the story.
In the beginning of this section, it is stated that the old wise man who appeared and revealed the secret about the castle to the brothers, might also symbolize their father.
The symbol of father is interpreted as follows:
“…a symbol of procreation, ownership, domination and courage, the father is an inhibiting and, in psychoanalytic terms, a castrating figure. He stands for all figures of authority in education, employment, the armed forces, the law, and for God himself. …one which discourages attempts at independence and exercises an influence which impoverishes, constrains, undermines, renders impotent and makes submissive. …He is the fountain of social order…” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.372- 373)
If the old wise man would be the father of the brothers then Rozafa can be explained in different ways. But since the symbol of father is interpreted as really dominant and castrating then it is impossible that the old man was the father of the brothers, who might have not recognized him since they might have never known him if he for example died in a war. The symbol of the father which is missing in this story, would then lead to the idea that the three brothers did not have any courage, education, and other skills which might have helped them in order to build the castle. So, apart from the interpretation that the castle was not standing up in the
beginning because of evil spirits we can add that the brothers lacked the proper skills in building the castle. Thus the castle would be built with the sacrifice of Rozafa in accordance with the ‘message’ of the Holy Spirit or God himself, who might have appeared as the old man. In this story, the father would symbolize more God rather than a human father figure.
In Rozafa the role of the mother of the three brothers seems at first not to be very important. As we can understand from the story, her activities as those of the brides had nothing to do with building the castle. But the mother was the one who ‘ordered’ the brides to go and send water, wine and bread to the masters. Still the interpretation of the mother, might be of more importance in explaining Rozafa’s character rather than that of the mother of the brothers. The Celts believed in the mother as:
“…in Celtic religious concepts, women played an important role either as messengers from the Otherworld or as sole possessors of the right of kingship and as war- goddesses. There was, however, one sole and unique female deity with varied aspects, in contrast with separate and distinct male deities. The female deity counterbalanced the ‘Almighty Father’ and since, although he was the father of mankind, he lacked virility, she was both virgin and mother of the gods.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.678- 679)
This description of the mother in this interpretation fits much better with Rozafa, rather than the mother of the brothers. This sole and unique female deity is Rozafa, who with the her will really complies with the idea as a possessor of the right of kingship, which would pass to her son the right of kingship, and as a war- goddesses who wishes her future son to became a good and brave warrior by inheriting her skills. The other interpretation which states that ‘the female deity counterbalanced the ‘Almighty Father…’ would explain the story in a whole different way. The ‘Almighty Father’ or his messengers (if he had any) might have appeared as the old man to the brothers since on purpose they or he might have needed the ‘male element’ of Rozafa which she might have developed during her life, so he the ‘Almighty Father’ would put a sin on the brothers’ head in order to take away from Rozafa her dark side, which in this case would mean the right side that should have been the properties of a male, which in the end her son received. Thus we can state that Rozafa’s sacrifice would make the castle stand only if she gave away her maleness to a man, her son. This means that the ‘Almighty Father’ did justice on earth.
But the mother as a symbol is also interpreted in different ways:
“…related to that of EARTH and the SEA, in the sense that all three are WOMBS and wells of life. Earth and sea are themselves symbols of the mother’s body. …Life and death are interdependent. To be born is to emerge from the mother’s womb; to die is to return to Earth. Mothers are anchors of shelter, warmth, love and nourishment.
…Christianity mystically transposes the Mother into the Church, conceived as a community from which Christians can draw nourishment in the life of grace, but from which they may also suffer intolerable spiritual despotism, such is the human
capacity to corrupt. On the other hand, the Divine Mother symbolizes the most perfect sublimation of instinct and the most profound harmony of love.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.677- 679)
In the interpretation of the symbol number three, it is advocated that there have been three brothers in Classical mythology, who were lords of the Universe: Zeus, lord of Heaven and Earth; Poseidon, Lord of the Sea; and Hades lord of the Underworld. It is discussed each of the brothers would be each lord. If we would think of these lords as being ladies, then we can state that since mother is a symbol of Earth and Sea which including the mother would make three wombs, then there at the castle a young mother, Rozafa, was walled up in order to have the element of Earth and Sea which would later on would make possible the unification of the castle that could be the ‘street’ between the Underworld and Heaven. But her mother care would still be proper to her son by taking care of him with a lot of love. The Divine Mother in the Christian religion would still share the same emotions toward her son, but still there are no clues in the story of whether Rozafa’s son was born in the same way as Jesus.
Now, let us turn back to the questions posed in the beginning: Where is the father of the brothers? In Rozafa the father, might have also been presented to the brothers as the old man who told them the secret but they would have noticed him. It can be possible that the old man might have appeared with the mist so the brothers did not see clearly who was the man talking to them. Still, it can be that the old man was the father, because as suggested sometimes earlier, the father of the brothers might have been dead long ago and the brothers did not know or remember him anymore since they might have been too young when they saw him for the last time. The most interpretable part of the story is that done through Christian symbols, which leaves the real father out of the picture and substitutes him with God, Holy Spirit, etc.
The other question was: Who was the man that confessed the secret of the castle to the brothers? Well, as also stated above the Christian and Pagan interpretation would interpret him as a supernatural Father, who for the Christians could be God, Holy Spirit and for the Pagans just the ‘Almighty Father’.
Why the younger brother kept his oath, and the other older brothers did not? The most plausible interpretation would be that the younger brother was the one who showed faith first of all to his brothers. He might have believed that none of them would tell anything home, so that he did not tell to his wife or mother about the old man and the sacrifice. Other interpretation that can be attached to him is the one that sees him as being Zeus. Maybe the younger brother was just the better person who taught a lesson to his ‘bad’, selfish, etc., brothers.
And why was Rozafa sacrificed? The faith of the younger brother in keeping his oath, made Rozafa a more valuable ‘object’ of sacrifice. Also it can be that God wanted her sacrifice, in order to take away from her the male right side and better place it in her young son who would need it in his future. To sum up, this section offered an interpretation of the story by referring to different phenomena, events, objects, etc., as symbols standing for other meanings. The answers that are aforementioned do not really have a universal appeal since the
system of beliefs changes in the course of time. But what does not change is the mere existence of human beings. Therefore, this interpretation is interesting but it would still not give any meaning to the story in which we in nowadays can make any interference with reality and also our life. One common interpretation refers to this story just for the magnificence and sacrifice of Rozafa for the country, rather than it makes any reference to the family, individuals, etc. For a better understanding of Rozafa and our selves, let’s see Jung and Freud’s interpretation.
3.2. The Depth Psychological Content of the Story
The depth psychological content of Rozafa is mainly focused on Carl Gustav Jung’s (July 26, 1875- June 6, 1961) theory, who founded the neopsychoanalytic school of psychology. Jung himself preferred the term of analytic psychology. But let’s first start with a quick interpretation based on Freud’s, Oedipus complex theory.
If we would interpret the story by referring to Freud’s theory, there is no father complex as is the Oedipus complex. Since there is no indication in the story about the existence and death of the father it is in vain to make any claims about the sexual drive of the brothers. We can suppose that if there have ever been a father complex, then it has already been resolved before the building of the castle. Still, just the absence of the father might elude the fact that the story was created as such on purpose to show that three brothers with their brides would live just with the mother and not with a father. Those who did create and inherit the story might have left out the father in order to give the message that the three brothers were weak in building a castle since they were ‘weak’ and in ‘love’ with their mother and even to sacrifice the bride for a castle, which might represent sexuality. Still, if these interpretation would be considered, then it would be only the young brother who loved the mother so much as to believe an old man, which could have been an oracle, as to ‘kill’ his wife for a better sexual life, the castle, or for a better and closer relationship with the mother.
Furthermore, the symbol of the father which would kind of evoke some similar feelings as Freud’s theory, is also interpreted as such:
“…a symbol of procreation, ownership, domination and courage, the father is an inhibiting and, in psychoanalytic terms, a castrating figure. …Such a
development embodies the suppression of the ‘other’ father and the acquisition of ‘self’ fatherhood. Such identification with the father involves a
two way movement of (his) death and (my) rebirth.”
But since the figure of the father is missing in the story we can state that the ‘identification with the father’ might have been already occurred and in the story the ‘rebirth’ of the brothers is already achieved.
Freud’s interpretation which always comes down to sexuality is really far fetched, since in Albania parents, even at the present, do still live with their children and grandchildren and it a sign of respect and carefulness which was given first to
the children by the parents and then the children when they grow up would also take the same carefulness toward their parents. The absence of the father in the story can be explained in relation to the historical events of the country. As Albania (Illyria) has continually been in wars to protect the borders, in most of the families the fathers have either been dead or fighting somewhere. Therefore, in Rozafa the father might have died in a war. His sons in order to protect themselves, brides, children and mother, needed to built the castle.
However, most importantly it is better to take a look at Jung’s interpretation of the mother complex. According to Jung, the psyche supplies images and forms that make the knowledge of objects possible. These forms, which are traditionally transmitted through generations, have the origin in archetypal ideas. Jung states about the origin of the psyche in relation to archetypal ideas:
“…primordial images which were never reflections of physical events but are spontaneous products of the psychic factor” (Jung, 1968, p.57)
Furthermore, Jung states that the psyche is the one that translates physical processes into images that are not easily recognized in relation with objective processes. This in Rozafa might explain the existence of the story, where what is to be understood from it is different from the previous section. According to Jung, since the subjective psyche, where are the contents of the consciousness, can be considered to be Rozafa, then we have to understand the objective psyche in the story, that is the unconsciousness which in the same time is the a priori condition of consciousness,
therefore the meaning of Rozafa. Moreover, the archetypes are the unconscious determining influences that derive from unconsciousness, as Jung states:
“…the archetypal form of the divine syzygy first covers up and assimilates the image of the real parents until, with increasing consciousness, the real figures of the parents are perceived- often to the child’s disappointment” (Jung, 1968, p. 67)
Jung describes a case in which the man had a mother and castration complex and he had some drawings of the mother who in the first ones she looked as a superhuman and then as a figure of woe. Jung explains:
“…from the son’s earlier childhood, the mother was assimilated to the archetypal idea of the syzygy, or conjuction of male and female, and for this reason appeared perfect and superhuman” (Jung, 1968, p. 67-68)
The disappointment of the child causes the castration complex. The anima, that gives the mother superhuman image in the son later on becomes imperfect by reality and falls deep into the unconscious. One of the archetypes, Jung calls the anima which is the feminine part of the soul, psyche, that is encountered as a projection, which is an unconscious process, in all divine syzygies that are male-female pairs of deities. Jung stresses that this imagination of man is related to the motif to project it over time in all places. Therefore we can believe that the same mother complex concept is to be
found in Rozafa. The most projected is the parental imago, which is never conscious and needs to become conscious. Since there is a lot of “resistance” by people it is difficult to make conscious to people and patients, and we will evaluate if the purpose of Rozafa is to make conscious to people this resistance to the complex.
Moreover, since man has been under the influence of dominating ideas, according to Jung, he has the representations collectives which is repressed with resistance, which hide behind ideas and figures, as is definitely the case in Rozafa. Jung states explains the complex and the anima as such:
“…a masculine element is always paired with a feminine one…The feminine part, the mother, corresponds to the anima” (Jung, 1968, p.65)
Jung explains that these images have been once conscious and then “repressed”. The parental imago comes into existence between the first and fourth year of childhood, which is kind of a dream, twilight state. Since the psyche of a newborn holds a priori preformed patterns which give the child and the dreamer the humanlike stamp, there are archetypes that direct all the fantasy (images). These Jung calls, inherited possibilities of ideas. He furthermore, defines the anima as such:
“The anima is a factor of the utmost importance in the psychology of a man wherever emotions and affects are at work. She intensifies, exaggerates, falsifies, and mythologizes all emotional relations with his work and with other people of both sexes. The resultant fantasies and entanglements are all her doing. When the anima is strongly constellated, she softens the man’s character and makes him touchy, irritable, moody, jealous, vain and unadjusted. He is then in a state of “discontent” and spreads discontent all around him. Sometimes the man’s relationship to the woman who has caught his anima accounts for the existence of this syndrome.”
(Jung, 1968, p. 70- 71)
As Jung states, the mother complex is very common. In Rozafa the mother complex can explain the meaning of the story. At first sight, it seems that the three brothers had a mother complex, since all three of them “mythologized” the presence of an old wise man, who told them a secret, and also the impossibility of building up the castle. The younger brother, when he saw his bride Rozafa spread “discontent” by cursing the rocks and the castle, thus the anima had become ‘strongly constellated’.
His discontent in this case was not really spread but his bride Rozafa, recognized it, eve though she was not affected by his discontent. The two older brothers in the story do not say much, but their actions are of most importance to be defined. First, Jung makes a distinction between different ages in the relation to the mother complex:
“Younger people, who have not yet reached the middle of life (around the age of 35), can bear even the total loss of the anima without injury. The important thing at this stage is for a man to be a man. The growing youth must be able to free himself from the anima fascination of his mother” (Jung, 1968, p. 71)
Jung’s expression “a man to be a man” is a very important characteristic that can also be found in the other old Albanian stories. Since the oath, besa, is an important action, which is mainly taken by man, under the circumstances of war, we can state that keeping the oath was an important action that the younger brother had to do.
Thus we state that Rozafa, does not just tell the story of Rozafa’s sacrifice, but also the ‘liberation’ of the younger brother from the mother complex. Of course, we do not know if the younger brother was at the age of 35, but it is very likely that he was a bit younger than 35, since he had one child and was married and had a young bride. The younger brother, was uncastrated from the mother complex, by giving away half of his bride since the other half of Rozafa’s body would still accomplish some family tasks such as nourishing the son. But the younger brother identity had to be set. What about the two older brothers? Were they already freed from the mother complex? According to Jung, the consequences of the loss of the anima are:
“…diminution of vitality, of flexibility, and of human kindness. The result, as a rule, is a premature rigidity, crustiness, stereotypy, fanatical one-sidedness, obstinacy, pedantry, or else resignation, weariness, sloppiness, irresponsibility, and finally a childish ramollissement with a tendency to alcohol” (Jung, 1968, p.71)
Well, we do not know if the brothers drank any alcohol, even though it is known from old texts that the Illyrians ha d produced in ancient times honey wine and that their mother sent them wine with Rozafa. We can argue that the older brothers did not have any human kindness since he did not keep their oath, and consequently their brother’s bride was sacrificed. But we can also argue that they showed human kindness toward their own brides, and maybe their children if they had any. Jung explains how the mother complex is formed. He states that during childhood the role of the mother is very important since the child lives in a state of unconscious identity while the mother is the psychic apart from being the physical precondition of the child. When the ego-consciousness awakens then living in ‘participation’ with the mother weakens, and the conscious enters in opposition with the unconscious. Thus there is a differentiation of the ego from the mother.
In Rozafa the three brothers were trying to build a castle. The castle can mean ‘the self’ while the wall that they could not built might stand for defense, a strengthening of the self. As the oath can be interpreted as a commitment of the ego, it would then explain that the one who kept the oath, the younger brother, did get committed to his ego. That would mean that the other two brothers who did not keep their oath, had either committed to their ego, thus formed their identity earlier on then this story starts, or they had not yet done that, and maybe will do it in the future after the lesson from the younger brother is given.
Rozafa’s right side might represent her husband’s consciousness, which had come into ‘light’ after appearance of his unconsciousness. Since Rozafa was a strong bride, who immediately obeyed to the brothers “command”, it furthermore sustains the idea that her husband had a mother complex. Her left side represents her husband’s unconsciousness, which was left into darkness while the right side consciousness and the feminine aspect, the anima. At this point, Rozafa tells the story of three brothers, where for sure the younger brother had a mother complex but he
was uncastrated from it after it became conscious to him, by keeping the oath, committing to his ego. Rozafa’s right side, the anima of her husband is made conscious, but it also presents her archetype of the mother, which had as a primary aim the nourishment of her son, and the future of coming generations.
According to Jung, at later stages in life, the fabulous and mysterious qualities of the mother image are transferred to the grandmother. This interpretation would lead us to believe in another meaning in history of the figure of Rozafa. The Great Mother according to Jung, is:
“As the mother of the mother, she is “greater” than the latter; she is in truth the “grand” or “Great Mother”. Not infrequently she assumes the attributes of wisdom as well as those of a witch. For the further the archetype recedes from consciousness and the clearer the latter becomes, the more distinctly does the archetype assume mythological features.” (Jung, 1968, p. 102)
The archetype is elevated to a higher rank when the transition is done. When there is
an increased difference between conscious and unconscious, the grandmother is placed in a higher rank that of a “Great Mother”, and in general the opposites in this image split apart. The character of the Great Mother is then either as a good fairy or a wicked fairy, etc. This holds true in Albania even at the present. Rozafa is not actually viewed as an old grandmother who everyone loves, but she is mainly displayed as a very good and young bride. Still the attributes of wisdom are attached to her, since her sacrifice made possible for the coming generations to be protected in the castle. Most interestingly, Jung states:
“In Western antiquity and especially in Eastern cultures the opposites often remain united in the same figure… The legends about the gods are as full of contradictions as are their moral characters.” (Jung, 1968, p. 102)
It is also stated earlier on, that in Kuteli’s collection of old Albanian stories, man and women are sometimes being presented with their good and bad characteristics. The moral characters of the two older brothers in Rozafa, are of contradictions since even though the oath is a very valuable action (and still today people are puzzled by the two older brothers since they believe that that is not at all the right thing to do), still they did not keep it. The two older brothers might be considered as bad in the ‘eyes of the beholders’ but it can also be possible that their ‘deviation’ from the common belief was done on purpose just to give free way to their younger brother’s mother complex. Still, the possibility exists that the two older brothers did not commit to their ego, thus still were castrated in the mother complex.
Now, according to Jung the mother-image in a woman’s psychology is different from a man’s. He clearly states:
“For a woman, the mother typifies her own conscious life as conditioned by her sex.”
(Jung, 1968p. 105)
For the woman, the mother becomes a symbol in course of psychological development. In a woman the mother image is a chthonic type, or Earth Mother.
Since Jung advocates that a woman can identify directly with the Earth Mother, while a man cannot, then Rozafa by expressing her will acknowledges and identifies her self with the Earth Mother. It can be possible that the mother of the brothers, even though she did not know anything about the sacrifice, would be a chthonic type. It is believed that she was old so she could not go up in the hill, but if she could do that but sent the bride, Rozafa at the brothers then she would be “blamed”too as causing Rozafa to ‘fade away half of her body’. Still, a further explanation about Rozafa would be that she is identified in the future generations, as Jung specifies the Great Mother:
“As mythology shows, one of the peculiarities of the Great Mother is that she frequently appears paired with her male counterpart. Accordingly the man identifies with the son-lover on whom the grace of Sophia has descended, with a puer aeternus…” (Jung, 1968, p.106)
Rozafa was a mother of a child and the bride of the younger brother. Here once again, it is stressed that her husband had a mother complex, puer aeternus, and his commitment of the ego, which made possible the standing of the castle, ‘relieved’ him from this only by taking away from him his bride’s left side, his unconscious, and making clear Rozafa’s consciousness of the Mother Earth and his consciousness of the mother complex, her husband’s puer aeternus. Jung would then state that the unconscious has become conscious and the younger brother’s mother complex has disappeared. Furthermore, Jung analyzes the sacrifice of the bull as such:
“Indeed sacrifice primarily celebrates an internal triumph and the Jungian school was to interpret the famous scene of Mithras sacrificing the bull, as they did other sacrifices and especially certain Dionysiac rites, ‘as a symbol of the victory of man’s spiritual nature over his animality- of which the bull is a common symbol”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 820)
In Rozafa, that would once again mean that the female sacrifice would then be interpreted as the victory of man’s masculinity over his femininity.
The interpretation of Rozafa, such a short story, is definitely complex if it has to be interpreted in relation to the (religious/ spiritual) symbols in the story. It is possible to have different supernatural and interpretation of the symbols on their meaning in relation to religious beliefs, since we cannot completely be sure of the ancient people’s belief. But that should not discourage us to take some action and try to understand them.
Moreover, the interpretation based on Jung’s theory is more comprehensible, appealing and important. The role of the mother complex, anima, and that of the
Grand Mother seem to be very important, and have always been as such, in our society.
As Jung also states, the repression of the unconsciousness has a very terrible effect on the soul. Therefore, the understanding and human’s recognition of these archetypes, and the relationship between consciousness and unconsciousness, are not just depth psychology theories for understanding as in this paper Rozafa but also ourselves, ancestors and future generations.
“Eagle-woman” symbol of the motherland, Albania
– Chevalier, J., Gheerbrant, A., The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, (Buchanan-Brown,
J., Trans.), 2nd edition, Penguin Books, 1996
– Jung, C.G., The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, (Hull, R.F.C., Trans.), 1968,
2nd edition, Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press (Series: The Collected Works of
C.G. Jung; Vol. 9, part 1 Bollingen series; 20)
– Kuteli, M., Tregime te Moçme Shqiptare, (Berberi, B., Trans), 2005, (Original work
Science: Rationality & Imagination (May, 2005 The Netherlands) by Blerina Berberi
By studying the “Philosophy of Science” I have been struck by the quest for clear dichotomies of approaches to knowledge, scientific and non-scientific. The Scientific Revolution that settled science as the only objective, rational, true, method of discovery for human knowledge, which is based on observational and experimental facts makes the “pool” of dichotomies becomes bigger and the boundaries seem to get blurrier when other issues within the realm of science and non-science, such as related to epistemology, ontology and methodology became clearer.
This research focuses on the importance imagination in science. The aim of the paper is to show how rationality and imagination, can be, and have been reconciled in the field of scientific discovery and present imagination and science as reciprocally related and progressed.
1. Scientific theories: Imagination
The Scientific Revolution is stated to have started either in the 16th, 17th century or maybe has not even started yet. Nevertheless, the basis of such a claim is the belief that science was the only field of looking at facts of observation and experimentation as the serious foundation of knowledge, i.e. “science is derived from facts” (Chalmers, 1999, p.1). Still factual knowledge is under dispute. When it comes to explain Galileo’s discovery as scientific, many do not agree on the interpretation of such discovery. H.D. Anthony states that what was different in Galileo’s discovery, was his attitude in taking observable facts as the main factors in building up his theory (Chalmers, 1999, p.1). For science observational and experimental facts on which scientific theories are based do really represent the reality, Realism, while others, such as Anti-Realists, claim that Galileo’s logical reasoning could not lead to such a theory. But before we discuss this in more details let’s take a look how scientific theories are set.
The two main schools of thought are the empiricists and rationalists, but while empiricists claim that knowledge derives from observation, rationalists hold that true knowledge lies in thinking. While the former claims induction is the best approach, the later holds deduction to be the right approach to true knowledge (Boon, Lect. 3). Thus scientific theories are set either by inductive or/and deductive logic. According to Chalmers, induction is building up laws and theories from facts acquired from observation, and deduction is deriving from the theories and laws predictions and explanations, so reasoning from the general to the particular (Chalmers, 1999, p.54).
Both approaches have their strong and weak arguments but most important is to see the validity of scientific theories that derive either from induction or deduction. The two dichotomous approaches to scientific theories are Realism and Anti-Realism. According to Anti- Realism:
“The enduring part of science is that part which is based on observation and experiment. The theories are mere scaffolding which can be dispensed with once they have outlived their usefulness” (Chalmers, 1999, p.227)
Anti- Realists claim that theories of the past weren’t correct descriptions of reality and that the scientific theories are just a set of claims that can be substantiated by observation and experiment (Chalmers, 1999, p.232). Moreover, Anti-Realists claim that theories are just useful instruments that help us just correlate and predict results of observation and experiment. An example, are Galileo’s discoveries which logically could not have derived at those theories. Furthermore, Anti- Realism holds that scientific theories developed either from the inductive or deductive logical approach are not true. So realists hold that observable facts are true but scientific theories are not. Thus Anti- Realism disagrees about the “truth” relationship between observable facts and scientific theories.
Yet Realists state that theories of science are true about the world since it describes the world as it is. Realism states science is realist in the sense that it attempts to exemplify the structure of reality, and has made progress by approximation of theories (Chalmers, 1999, p.245).
Furthermore, Realists state that nowadays-scientific theories are truer than the ones before. The reason is that they are based on true, rational, observable facts, and science progresses as we build more theories on the basis of the greater accumulation of facts. Anti-Realism, and other similar approaches, holds that history has tested scientific theories and many of them have failed to succeed and exist at the present time, thus nowadays scientific theories are not better than the earlier ones. The reasons are different and the conclusion is that if scientific theories really represent true, objective, rational knowledge than they would have not been discarded through out time.
Here we see a distinction of scientific theories with scientific observable facts whose truthness is questioned by Realists and Anti-Realists. But what escapes these two approaches is that in the processes of deduction and induction, another process takes place and that is imagination.
According to Hempel the narrow inductivist conception of scientific inquiry, is untenable. Even though the mechanical procedures for inductively “inferring” hypothesis can be specific for situations, he states about induction and “inferences”:
“There are no generally applicable “rules of induction”, by which hypothesis or theories can be mechanically derived or inferred from empirical data. The transition from data to theory requires creative imagination. Scientific hypothesis and theories are not derived from observed facts, but invented in order to account for them.” (Hempel, p.47)
Hempel seems to have the same approach as the Anti-Realists who claimed that Galileo’s logic could not have led him to those theories. And Hempel is stating that scientific theories set by induction are invented but still they can be proposed in science but have to be accepted by the scientific knowledge. Furthermore, Hempel states that:
“…imagination and free invention play a similarly important role in those disciplines whose results are validated exclusively by deductive reasoning, i.e. mathematics” (Hempel, p.47)
As we can see, Hempel claims that in building scientific theories, either by induction or deduction, there needs to be some ingenuity to make inferences to facts or theories through imagination and invention. Moreover, other scientists have also made discoveries not just on basis of scientific data, but on basis of their Imagination, such as the case of the chemist Kekule who in 1865 he found out to devise a structural formula for the benzene molecule just by gazing at his fireplace. Here, we come to Albert Einstein’s claim that:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge, for while knowledge points to all that is, imagination points to all there will be” (IM-BOOT, 2005).
This might be the case but maybe not always. The ancients’ imagination was that the world was flat but of course science proved the contrary and of course it deserve some credits. Still through their imagination they were wrong and gave the spark to science to develop and test their imagination.
In the following section I would like to demonstrate how imagination that is often regarded as opposed to rationality (science), which started with the Scientific Revolution, are both reconciled and have a necessary ontological relationship with each other.
2. Science: Rationality and Imagination
There are a lot of disputes about science and scientist’s position and a stream of different theories from many people, such as Chalmers, Kuhn, Popper, Lakatos, etc., have spread an extreme demand of trying to settle different perspectives of science. Yet the quest for rationality has neglected the crucial role of imagination. Toulmin says:
“… the man with the best trained mind can afford to give the freest rein to his intellectual imagination because he will be best qualified to appraise the rational context of his current problems and to recognize significant clues, promising new lines of analysis, or possible answers to his questions, as they come to mind.” (Toulmin, 2003)
As we know, in general the demarcation between science and non-science creates the dichotomy of rationality, objectivity, true knowledge, prediction, etc., and non-rationality, subjectivity, false knowledge, continuous change that doesn’t permit prediction, etc. But according to Toulmin it seems as though science needs imagination, as Hempel also stated, in order to make inferences between different theories and facts. Furthermore, the clear distinction between science and non-science is expressed in the following lines. For example, Adam Smith and Thomas Henry Huxley state:
(Smith) “Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.” (BrainyMedia, 2005a)
(Huxley) “Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.” (BrainyMedia, 2005b)
But others state that science is not just facts, logic, rationality, etc. Henri Poincare and Albert Einstein state:
(Poincare): “Science is built up of facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.” (BrainyMedia, 2005c)
(Einstein): “ The mere formulation of a problem is far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skills. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.” (QuoteWorld)
Here we can see, as in many other philosophers like Hempel, that imagination is also important to science and not just rationality. The list of these differences and that of the critics that doubt all these features of science is long and clear even though most of the times not always clear enough. The main reason for such complexities is the disregard of imagination, its role and place.
However, my point is that rationality and imagination co-exist and this love & hate relationship helps each other to be developed and tested. According to Nigel J.T. Thomas imagination is:
“(Imagination is)… what makes our sensory experience meaningful, enabling us to interpret and make sense of it, whether from a conventional perspective or from a fresh, original, individual one. …It also produces mental imagery, visual and otherwise, which is what makes it possible for us to think outside the confines of our present perceptual reality, to consider memories of the past and possibilities for the future, and to weigh alternatives against one another.” (Thomas, 2004)
The power of imagination is something often opposite to rationality. Being rational and exercising imagination are both conscious processes. However, sometimes imagination can be attributed in some cases to unconsciousness. We can try to distinguish between rationality in science based on facts and imagination as inferring facts and theories, but we know that they are not the same. Still, many scientists and other philosophers hold that imagination is important in order for science to progress.
But imagination can also lead to science fiction and other fantasies that are completely out of our objective reality. But that is not the point here. It can be said that our imagination created rationality, since our ancestors did not the science of our days, and furthermore rationality places a boundary to extreme imagination, such as to religion, but still science cannot progress or make new discoveries if we don’t have the power to imagine that we do not know much. Yet the extreme imagination not confined at some extent to reality is not fruitful to science. According to ScienceDaily:
“Progress in scientific research is due largely to provisional explanations which are constructed by imagination, but such hypotheses must be framed in relation to previously ascertained facts and in accordance with the principles of the particular science.” (ScienceDaily, 2004b)
& “One hypothesis for the evolution of human imagination is that it allowed conscious beings to solve problems (and hence increase an individual’s fitness) by use of mental simulation.” (ScienceDaily, 2004c)
First, imagination in science should be not completely free from objective constraints and practicality. However, imagination and rationality, science, both have an important relationship for each other. This is also the point made by Einstein, Poincare, etc., that without our imagination science would be just a heap of stones in the house (Poincare), and that without our imagination science doesn’t advance (Einstein). Furthermore, Wittgenstein also states, the contrary to Einstein, that science advances our imagination:
“Is scientific progress useful to philosophy? Certainly. The realities that are discovered lighten the philosopher’s task, (i.e.) imagining possibilities” (Wittgenstein, 1982, p. 807)
Thus while imagination exceeds some boundaries of objectivity and rationality, science tries to test, based on facts by observation and experimentation, the reality, rationality, truth, etc., of our imagination. In its course of finding the truth of our imagination science does progress. Whether the development in science can completely be attributed to imagination, I couldn’t tell, but the role of imagination is far greater in science, more than some rational scientists can even rationalize about.
Imagination and science go hand in hand with each other. Our imagination of the future gives science the “dream” to be achieved. While imagination trespasses the boundaries of objective reality, science tests these imaginations and in some cases it limits them, i.e. at the present there are not as many religious believers are there used to be, and in other cases it gives free reign to imagination, as is the case of Star Trek. Some recent news say:
“During its life in orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope has delivered transporting views of the heavens, pictures that fire the imagination of an unimaginably vast portion of the universe that we can’t otherwise see.” (Britt, 2004)
& “Viagra, the famous sex-boosting drug, has grabbed headlines, imaginations and pocketbooks since its debut in April of 1998.” (WebMD, 1999)
In the first case, news states that science has advanced in finding out new images in space, and that our imagination of the universe is contested and in the same time our imagination of the universe expands as more scientific data we gather. In the second one, science has progressed by fulfilling our imagination. It is also worthy to note that most of scientific developments also claim to have captured our imagination, as though as it is trying scientifically too hard to fulfill our “dreams.”
Herclitus of Epheus (535- 474 BC), known as the “obscure” Heraclitus, stated:
“Men do not know how that which is drawn in different directions harmonises with itself. The harmonious structure of the world depends upon opposite tension like that of the bow and the lyre.” (Herakleitos, frag.52)
We can say that the demarcation between science and non-science is a necessary distinction to be made in order to understand the opposites, dichotomies. But that doesn’t mean that there is no harmony. There is harmony as long as the tension of one field doesn’t supersede the other. Thus a certain balance of opposites needs to be perceived in order to have harmony.
Finally, on February 8, 2004, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting was discovered to bare similarities with the stars discovered by the Hubble telescope (ScienceDaily, 2004a). This case can be just a mere coincidence and it might be too much to ask to go back and discover what the ancients believed and see if the science of the future will discover the same things. But science doesn’t just discover the future it also makes it. Yet, as Einstein said:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning”!!!
– Boon, L. Lect. 3. (2005) Lecture 3, on “Critical Rationalism and Karl Popper”.
-BrainyMedia (2005a). Retrieved from: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/q118634.html
-BrainyMedia (2005b). Retrieved from:
-BrainyMedia, (2005c). Retrieved from:
– Britt, R.R. (April 22, 2004) Hubble still stunning of 14th birthday in Science and Space. Retrieved from: http://edition.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/04/22/hubble.bday/index.html
-Chalmers, A. F. (1999). What is this thing called Science? (3rd ed). Open University Press.
-Science Daily, (2004a) Space Phenomenon Imitates Art in Universe’s Version of Van Gogh’s painting, Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040305071444.htm
– Science Daily, (2004b) Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/encyclopedia/imagination
– Science Daily (2004c) Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/encyclopedia/imagination
-Hempel, C. (E-reader) The Role of Induction in Scientific Inquiry, p. 41- 49
-Herakleitos of Ephesos (Fragment 52) Réfutation des toutes les hérésies, IX, 9, 2.. Retrieved from:
-IM-BOOT, (2005). Retrieved from:
– QuoteWorld. Retrieved from:
-Thomas, Nigel J.T. (2004). Imagination, Mental Imagery, Consciousness, and Cognition: Scientific, Philosophical and Historical Approaches. Retrieved from: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/nthomas/
-Toulmin, S. E.. (2003) Movements of Scientific Thought, Discovery and Rationality in “The Competitiveness of Nations in Global- Knowledge-Based Economy. Britannica”. Retrieved from:
– WebMD, (1999). Retrieved from: http://edition.cnn.com/HEALTH/women/9910/15/viagra.women.wmd/index.html
-Wittgenstein, (1982) Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology (1948-9) i, p. 807; tr. Luckhardt and Aue. Oxford.
Female Ethics and Moral Imagination (May 27, 2005 The Netherlands/ Blerina Berberi)
This research focuses on the distinction between moral reasoning and female ethics, where the latter is discussed as being related to moral imagination theory, which with its distinguishable perspective on humanity brings forward benefits for the individual and society that are much greater compared to what the principles of moral reasoning have tried (or failed) to establish.
The idea that women think differently from man has been the explanatory factor for the subordination of women to men. Like Aristotle (384-322 BC), who said that women are not as rational as men, also Kant (1724- 1804) wrote that women “lack civil personality” and should not be involved in public life (Rachels, 2003, p.160). Kant’s theory on the Categorical Imperative holds that our moral obligations, duties, are different from the hypothetical “oughts” that are based on desires, and are based on reason. And moreover, the categorical “oughts” are derived from a principle that every rational being must accept and all humans should be bound to moral reasons in all times. But in the same time Kant denies any strong rational faculty to women, which according to Kant is vital in dealing with civil matters. Furthermore in Retributivism, Kant states that “paying back” is better than manipulating personalities (Rachels, 2003, p. 136). So is Kant paying back to women what they deserve by denying certain reasoning capacities to them? How come women deserve such a position? Kant’s theory also implies that women’s inability to be involved in civil matters is subordinated by men’s power of reasoning. The discussion in the following pages evolves around the idea of whether being involved in civil matters and lacking the ability of (men’s) reasoning, is really a bad thing for moral theory. There is also some analysis to advantages of female ethics in related to moral imagination,
The idea of female ethics, or of ethics with a ‘feminine’ nature began in the 18th century. At that time the industrialization of societies, led to an attention in the role of females in the society where woman so far was considered as holding virtues that were subordinate to the “private’ sphere of domestic life” (Grimshaw, 1991, p. 491). Moreover, Rousseau said that “characteristics which would be faults in men are virtues in women”(Grimshaw, 1991, p. 491). His idea is related to the simplicity of rural life that counteracts with “evil manners” of the city. However, Mary Wollstencraft (1759- 1797), who is considered to be the herald of feminist movement, made an attack on subordination created by social attribute which denied to women the educational and other rights needed for equality of status. She talked about “tyranny of men” and calls for a change in social attitudes. But she also acknowledges some differences and says that women should be educated not so much for their own sakes but enough to fit and be elevated companions to their husbands. Moreover, her wish was for a society where “distinctions of sex are confounded”, thus ignored (Cottingham, 1996, p.433). Wollstencraft tried to make a relationship between the public sphere, and Kant’s “civil” one, and stated that the “…public virtue is an aggregate of the private” (Cottingham, 1996, 437). She claimed that if parents do not have friendship, which is based on the level of knowledge of both parents, the future generation would not be educated properly. So it is necessary to educate women, which would become “companions of man” by progressing in knowledge and virtue. At the present the situation has changed and the participation and involvement of women in education is not anymore a concern, at least in most Western countries. According to Rachels, in the 60s- 70s that the men are rational and women emotional was dismissed. What remains crucial is relationship between public virtue, which is attributed to men’s reason, and private virtue attributed to women’s virtues.
Yet some still see a distinction between female’s morality and the men’s one. Galligan states that women moral orientation is caring for others, which is a care in a personal level that is not concerned for humanity in general (Rachels, 2003, p.161). He also states that women’s are sensitive to needs of others and that leads to a different voice. Thus, how different is the ethics of care from the male approach?
The “male way of thinking” appeals to impersonal principles while “female way of thinking” is taking care of others in a personal way (Rachels, 2003, p. 164). This seems somehow really far-fetched for women who have acquired knowledge and progressed their morality. However, Nel Noddings states that the basic notions of ethics of care are “ intuition and feeling rather than principle” (Rachels, 2003, p.170). In 1990 Virginia Held advocated that maybe caring, empathy, and feelings for others should be central to moral theory instead of the abstract rules of reason (Rachels, 2003, p.164).
Let’s take Kant. If we would always act in family and with friends according to “ought to” as rational beings, than parents would be just doing their duty and not loving their kids. The ethics of care than is more suitable and “duties” are not fundamental, and it suggests that personal relationships are prior and according to Rachels that is a sound moral conception (Rachels, 2003, p. 169). And how is this possible that women have a different morality? According to Rachels, “ethic of care can be just psychological conditioning that girls receive” (Rachels, 2003, p. 166). Nevertheless that is also related to some religious aspects, that even though have been said to be neglected by reason are prominent in moral theory. Furthermore, the roots of morality are strongly held in the Judeo-Christian tradition. According to Donagan, the universal laws in the ethics of the Western world is mainly which emphasize reason specify what is morally permissible and absolutely forbidden. According to the religious perspective humans are half animal and half rational. By bodily nature men are brute animals and by virtue we are rational. It is said in Genesis 1:26-27 that God created both man and women in his own image. So humanity being created as (half-) rational by God, means that “our reason can ‘participate’ or take part in divine reason’” (Johnson, 1993, p.20). This dichotomy came “down to earth” and men and women were seen different which in religious perspective, either because God created Adam first or because Eve ate the forbidden fruit of knowledge that descended Adam and Eve from Paradise. This entails that if we want an absolute moral theory we should remove this dichotomy, which is religiously inherited even those theories of moral reasoning. In Kant’s theory, as Johnson discusses, there is the main break with rational ethics with God. According to Johnson, Kant “…replaces divine reason with a universal reason, but he preserves the absolute and transcendent character of reason” (Johnson, p.25). So we are free rational creatures not subordinated by God, but not all of us, since Kant excludes the possibility of reason to women.
Johnson states that in the traditional rationalist theory: “Law induces or restrains, by virtue of the force of reason. We are moral insofar as we bring our willpower under the constraints of such universal law, and thereby exert force and control over our bodily actions” (Johnson, 1993, p. 29). By referring to God and to divine law and reason, then human reason through its participation in the divine one can get access to the fundamental principles or moral laws binding us all. Central to this is that reason is practical so it means that it guides our actions of will. If we accept that women do not exercise the power of reason equally as men, then we are left just with the Ethics of Care. To summon up, the Ethics of Care attributed to females holds that women are sensitive to the needs of others and care in a personal level (Galligan), intuition and feelings are vital to it (Noddings), and finally caring, empathy and feelings for the others, in the ethics of care, should be central to moral theory and replace the abstract rules of reason (Held). A new Moral Imagination theory has been introduced and it emphasizes the role of empathy.
Empathetic imagination has become very important to moral theory since it is an “imaginative empathetic projection into the experience of other people” (Johnson, 1993, p. 199). Here we see the shift from the not-personal universal reason of Kant, to the empathy of others which female ethics focuses on. Some philosophers have referred to subjective moral theory but in female ethics the involvement in empathy is not merely imagination, but deals with the feelings and needs of the others in a more personal level. Hume in his moral theory referred to sympathy and fellow feeling but yet did not refer to empathy as in empathetic imagination, which is concerned with imagining ourselves in different situations and conditions in different times. Johnson state that our attitude toward humanity should change and we should approach it “others worlds” “… not just by rational calculations, but also in imagination, feeling, and expression” (Johnson, 1993, p.200). He states that those people who are morally sensitive can live out through experiential imagination “the reality of others with whom they are interacting, or whom their actions might affect” (Johnson, 1993, p. 200). This approach, whose factor of empathy is crucial, is related to female ethics, but it does not mean that empathy is possible only for females. What female theory offered to moral theory is the new approach to humanity, and as Johnson states Moral Imagination, like the female ethics, “…undermines absolutist pretensions and supplies us with a range of possible meanings and directions that we might have previously overlooked” (Johnson, 1993, p.200). Therefore it opens a wide realm of diversity in our thinking and which makes possible to us to solve problems or accomplish our goal. Going a few steps further form female ethics, the role of imagination is very important and in Moral Law of morality, where the imaginative activity is neglected, rules “…get whatever meaning they have only from our interpretation of them, and all interpretation is irreducibly imaginative in character” (Johnson, 1993, p.31).
The Moral Law folk theory holds that “every aspect of morality is imaginative”(Johnson, 1993, p.13). Johnson more clearly advocates that fundamental moral concepts, understanding of situations and reasoning of situations are imaginatively structured and based on metaphors. Moreover, moral imagination doesn’t dictate the right thing to do, as the Moral Law theories tried and failed to since they “never gave the right thing to do either” (Johnson, 1993, p.187). This statement is doubtful because what this moral reasoning might have shown as the right thing was to prove its own failure and opened the new field of moral inquiry through imagination. In moral imagination, metaphors are crucial since they are not arbitrary or unmotivated. Metaphors produce us to the moral modesty about personal moral claims and recognition of the diversity of morally possible ways of living, thus moral knowledge. As it is mentioned below, the benefits or the consequences of moral imagination are similar to those of female ethics.
In conclusion, female ethics, with a focus on empathy, might have led to, after the failure of the cold reason, to moral imagination. Moral imagination theory is with the focus on the “experience of the others on more personal level”. Female ethics, like moral imagination, disregards reason for the sake of a better relationship between humans and as Rachels puts it: “To be loving, loyal, and dependable is to be a certain kind of person, and neither as a parent nor as a friend is it the kind of person who impartially “does his duty” (Rachels, 2003, p.171). One of the benefits of female ethics and moral imagination is the exploration of possibilities for “human flourishing” (Johnson, p.31).
In 1979, Bronfenbrenner after some researches concluded that: “No society can long sustain itself unless its members have learned the sensitives, motives, and skills involved in assisting and caring for other human beings” (Berman, 1998, p.1). Once again, the female ethics, ethics of care, is seen as vital to our society. In addition, according to Berman, studies have shown that young college students are less involved in politics, community activities, in influence social values, etc. This is alarming because “our democratic culture and social wellbeing depend on the renewing energy of young people who have the sensitivities and vision to help create a better world. Indeed, the very fabric of our national community depends on the degree to which we care about and treat each other with respect and civility” (Berman, 1998, p.1). Regarding education it is better to teach students not with rigid and strict regulations but as Berman states: “The most productive instructional strategy for developing social responsibility, therefore, is to teach young people skills in empathy”(Berman, 1998, p.1). Berman also states that by being empathetic we are more concerned about the community. Grimshaw also acknowledges the frutifulness of female ethics, which is also related to moral imagination, and states:
“…in a world in which the activities and concerns which have traditionally been regarded as primarily female were given equal value and status, moral and social priorities would be very different from those of the world in which we live now” (Grimshaw, 1991, p. 499).
I conclude that if we all, not only females from which the female ethics sprung from, exercise empathy, which is possible for everyone to do, then we would see the world as a big family and the principles of female ethics, thus virtues of female character, would make it possible to consider every one of us a member of the same community in which caring about each other is vital to our living. My remaining question would be: Do our contemporary leaders, especially in politics, exercise empathy?
– Berman, S. H. (1998) The bridge to civility: Empathy, Ethics and Service, American Association of School of Administrators. Retrieved from:
– Cottingham J. (1996) Western Philosophy: An Anthology, Blackwell Publishers.
– Johnson M. (1993) Moral Imagination: Implications of Cognitive Science for Ethics, The University Chicago Press.
– Rachels, J. (2003) The Elements of Moral Philosophy, 4th edition, New York: McGraw- Hill
– Grimshaw, J. (1991), The idea of a female ethic in “A Companion to Ethics”, edited by Singer, P. Basil Blackwell.
By: Ekphrasis Studio
TIRANA. Almost 20 years after the first student called “We want Albania like the rest of Europe”, the strong, ancient history of artistic and cultural information of the Albanians continues to be a persistent dialogue alongside not yet developed policies, qualifications and education. The result of this combination is un-planned, sporadic cultural organizations and events. Arts and heritage boards have almost the same character; they depend on which political wind is stronger.
The management of cultural expressions in Albania is something of a “tabula rrasa”, and is mainly a vague economic understanding of cultural goods. There is rarely a measurement for success, other than an opinion or statistic claiming to be better/worse than the activity before. There is little education.
During the last 20 years, infrastructure for creating and presenting cultural expressions has actually decreased. The cinema has been reduced from 450 movie theatres in the late ’80s, to only a handful in 2009. Recent cultural activities, especially contemporary, have taken place in un-used military zones, crumbling castles, the abandonned Hotel Dajti and so on. Infrastructure is critical for creative development, but state facilities are severely lacking in funding and maintenance, countless historical objects have been looted and the building of the Albanian League of Artists was turned into the new Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports. With its long title (listing its responsibilities and administrative duties), this institution has the monopoly as the busiest cultural manager in the country.
The only information not to find from this Ministry is the state’s Cultural Policies. There is only one page on the Cultural Strategy which states only what has to be achieved rather than how developments will unfold. Policies are for planning the budget, meaning the use of taxes collected according to the needs for developing and preserving cultural goods. Through policies, the statutes of artists are defined and arts management mechanisms that create the market(ing) encourage production of all creative expressions. Without policies – that is to say guidelines that need to be carefully evaluated on their impacts – there is no plan or incentives. What is here today, is not assured for tomorrow.
A policy in the simplest sense, is like having a road map with directions to get somewhere. It exists to address an issue that has been deemed important, with guidelines on what the outcome should include. Essentially, if policy does not exist, no defined problem or issue exists either – thus, no map, no guidelines and no particular outcome.
Earlier this year, this was proven in dramatic fashion when the Deputy Director of the National Art Gallery openly announced that he would curate an exhibition of his own art at the National Gallery, using public funds, for his political party’s election campaign. This was approved by the Director himself, and every authority right to the top of the government.
Can a state administrator with a specific job description also be a curator and artist at the same time within the same institution? If so, everyone who has these skills should become a state administrator to exercise them. One must ask what was the merit of this project being in the National Gallery. Artistic quality and subject matter of national importance? The “deputy director’s” position within the gallery? The “artist’s” position within the government? Definately the latter two.
Qualifications and human resource management are essential to any project management and above all the main assets for any country’s future. Qualifications act as a proof of knowledge, at very least proof of the ability to acquire knowledge. Human resource management is the ability to put people where they will shine. A merit based system through open calls for applications is crucial. Un-earned honours, awards and job positions do nothing to improve the outcome, furthermore, with an under-skilled staff one can expect limited achievements at best. Add this to an un-specified policy, and you are left with very little.
This leads us to education – in schools, but also in other activities. All members in the cultural conversation must be reached out to and heard. Research of Albania’s cultural values in the world and understanding Albania’s culture through intercultural dialogue are among many other European and world concepts that are heard only during some government level international conferences. All participants and citizens must be the drivers of dialogue as well as active participants in the design and realization of their presentation. This means alternative spaces to host the cultural conversation.
To start the conversation, a system of merits is often established through transparency of Open Calls, asking willing participants to present their ideas in a competition. These calls are an aspect of an open policy to support and quantify the work of artists. The process enables the most suitable artistic expression to be presented, and serves as a collection point to establish a database and network of working artists. This process invites all willing participants to the conversation, to present their point of view, while also helping administrators determine how many ‘willing participants’ exist.
Naturally, not all submissions will meet the criteria, however the fact that criteria has been set, indicates a policy to facilitate meeting some defined objectives. A call for submissions is an exhibition in itself and is a chance for any curator to examine numerous presentations of a subject, critically selecting the most appropriate creative work/worker. The same can be said for anyone in the creative realm – to critically select the most appropriate. These calls are rarely made in Albania.
“The Government has no monopoly of knowledge and ideas. To understand and tackle our challenges fully and vigorously, we need to draw on the expertise and resources of all our people.”
-Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore
Numerous jurisdictions around the world have supported the development of the culture sector
through the creation of cultural policies. This has generally been a positive step, but the successful development and management of cultural expressions requires that culture and creativity are everyone’s concern, not just the culture sector’s, and certainly not just the Minister’s.
Canada has just begun a national initiative to increase Canadians’ awareness, accessibility and participation with art and artists and engagement within the cultural sector. Meanwhile, President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities includes twenty-six private sector citizens who have an interest and commitment to arts and humanities, along with twelve government members whose agencies have cultural programs, such as the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the U. S. Department of Education, the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
What about Europe? Recently, the Manifesto on the Status of the Artist (a collaboration of the International Federation of Actors and International Federation of Musicians), highlights five key points to improve in European policies including job stability, social security, pensions and copyrights. Europe is also in year three of a six year, 400 million euro cultural programme including policy measures expressed by cultural organizations regarding cross border dialogue and trans-national mobilty of artists, artworks and products.
Ekphrasis Studio is the first and only Arts Management & Creative Industries Studio aiming at policy, project and educational development in Albania. Directors: Bela Berberi & Kevin Tummers.
Visit us: https://ekphrasisstudio.wordpress.com
Blerina Berberi, The Netherlands, 2005
Dan Graham and Joseph Kosuth
End of story:
The Pavilion of Babel
Conceptual art is commonly stated to have started around 1960. Robert Hughes wrote that the ‘sparkle’ of conceptual art is Robert Rauschenberg, who invested in the assumption of art existing anywhere in whatever form, material and for any purpose and destination such as in his telegram: “This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say so”. Furthermore, Robert Rosenblum stated that artists after 1960 ‘owned’ to Rauschenberg the challenging of restrictions of art and the belief in all life is open to art. Rauschenberg also referred to Marcel Duchamp and the use of “readymades”. His influences were also interfused with those theories of Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, etc. He wasn’t the only one to ignite the ideas about conceptual art.
The basic definition of conceptual art lies in its conception since according to Duchamp “All art is conceptual because art only exist conceptually”. But conceptual art doesn’t completely get away with the object since some artists such as Dan Graham tried to establish a new relation between object and idea, physicality and meaning. According to Williams conceptual art is less a movement and more a “reorientation of artistic strategy”.
During 1965-1975, the Van Abbe Museum in the Netherlands had its ‘doors’ wide open to the new works of conceptual art. The exhibition of such artworks depended a lot on the director of the museum, co-workers, and other political and economical factors. These experimental and technological artworks were welcomed while diminishing the traditional and conventional disciplines. The different forms of visual representation, such as films, videos, photography were consolidated in the idea of challenging the concept of art and the values of visual manifestations.
The social and political circumstances of the 60s and 70s ‘encouraged’ the young generation to question most of traditional forms and beliefs concerning society, museums, and above all art. This ‘reorientation of artistic strategy’ or as Kosuth might say “new methotodology” breeds a wide range of different artworks still under the same conception on conceptual art.
But how black and white is this?
‘Analytical’ artists, such as Joseph Kosuth and Art & Language group, rejected the pre-established notion of art, its theory and practice. The basic change was the dematerialization of art works. Joseph Kosuth’s works rejected formalist and aesthetic views demonstrating it in his art theory in his works. One of his works in 1965, One and Nine- A description, is a series of ten identical glass sheets, showing different words describing the quality of the same object: clear, glass, square, etc. His idea was that the essence of something is shown by “an idea contained in language”. This was an artwork neither a sculpture or painting. It was formless and colorless. In his First Investigations, represented definitions of different words taken from dictionaries, on the basis of stating that language ‘pertains’ concepts such as meaning. Therefore no forms needed to represent ideas. The Van Abbe Museum catalogue states:
“By bringing language into the context of visual, Kosuth was able to replace the pictorial image with a linguistic definition”
Kosuth’s works are titled Art as Idea as Idea which express his viewpoint on the artwork as concept, since that is all that’s important. The basic shift in his thinking about art was its context. The main idea of Art as Idea as Idea was changing the idea of art itself. New forms can’t be formed but new meanings yes. He explains:
“So I felt that all art was abstract in relation to cultural meaning, in the way that the noises we utter called words are meaningful in relation to a linguistic system, not in relation to the world”
He also found that “there was more of a transcultural response to achromatic color-black, white, and gray-than to the chromatic scale, which had a much more marked difference among specific individuals as well as between cultures”.
Kosuth advocates not to make art for its own sake because that is dependent on its tradition for meaning, through form, which speaks to itself. Furthermore, he states that language as a cultural system is parallel to art, by being both useful in theory and practice. Therefore, ambiguity on art’s role is something that is part of the culture, language. More explicitly he states:
“I choose language for the ‘material’ of my work because it seemed to be the only possibility with the potential for being a neutral non-material; considering the transparency of language meant it use in art would, in a sense, allow us to ‘see’ art, while still focusing on the social/cultural context it’s dependent upon for meaning…art would tell us something about our art by being our art..”
Regarding his new ‘methotodology’ that artists should consider, he expresses his position in relation to art institutions, politics and society. He says that “institutionalized ‘individualism’ divides us”. In this case he is referring to museums and art market whose role is considered to be negative in the evaluation, categorization, appreciation of art and the social connections in a society. He also wanted his works that by the use of the labels one person can read at a time. Therefore each individual would feel at ease “looking” or rather say reading his artworks, contrary to the crowd in front of Mona Lisa’s in Louver. Another important issue for Kosuth is that artists should talk and explain their works more than critics, since critics’ position is different and might lead to a variety of misinterpretations.
The ‘famous’ concern of many artists is something, which according to him is a simple choice if you understand the mass population of the world. He states:
“…there’s a lot more dumb people out there than there are smart ones, so if your goal in life is to be popular, and/or rich, the choice isn’t a difficult one”.
Briefly, Kosuth main characteristics are his new ideas on the conception and context of art, in relation to language, culture, society, institutions, politics, etc.
But what about other conceptual artists? How different were they? The difference between Kosuth and some other American conceptual artists, is that the Americans were a bit keen on Minimalist art, something which Kosuth disliked.
Is it possible that different conceptualist artists, even though their artworks are so different, can be compatible conceptually?
During the late 60s, Dan Graham came up with his Magazine Pieces where their ideological and cultural context eliminated the unambiguous. Those magazines weren’t just presented as artworks but also as art criticism. Thus his art magazines weren’t ‘merchandise’ since artworks are reproduced in magazines. In 1969 Dan Graham started focusing on performance, film and video art. His main interest lied in processes of perception, social and psychological aspects between the artist, audience and surroundings. Furthermore, he was one of the first to use video not just for recording but to expose the viewer’s conditioned behavior. In his Yesterday/Today 1975 a monitor was placed in the museum and the audience could see different scenes and people in the other rooms of the museum live, while the sound was recorder one day earlier but at same time. His intention was to show to the public what was hidden to them, the presumed neutrality of such an art institution.
The young Graham, owned a gallery which exhibited works of Sol LeWitt minimalal artist, which later on went bankrupt. In his works he was focused on video and other theories because: “I think about video in terms of its self-reference. It is a kind of mirror that reflects the unconsciousness of the subject”.
Later on he gave up films because he couldn’t afford making them. Graham’s interest on the concept of video as mirror, has followed his later works in glass. One of the “latest” and well known artwork is his pavilion on the DIA center in Manhattan 1995 formed of two-way mirrored glass which is transparent and reflective depending on the changes of light. Graham is really into art and architecture and he also studied different European gardens. According to Cooke, the origins of this sculpture-architecture object lies in Minimalism art, which focused on pure forms of physical contexts. The basic function of this project is public rather than private. Furthermore Cooker states on the forms of his pavilion:
“The outer rectilinear structure of this site-specific sculpture makes reference to the city below: to the grid pattern which determines its topography; to the predominance of modernist and modernist-derived architectural styles in its high-rise architecture; and to its framing of the dual character of urban social experience, of seeing and being seen, of spectatorship and spectacle…the viewer cannot escape consciousness of his or her-self image as mirrored in the glass, and hence of his or her agency in the act of vision…Graham’s work speaks much to a phenomenological as to a psychological reading of the self and its constructions”.
Furthermore, Cooker in her essay explains that the inner cylinder is formed from the ‘bodies of viewers’ as from the adjacent watertower, a feature of the Manhattan skyline. Graham, himself considers his project as a microcosmos of the whole city, where different social activities take place and people interact. The social participation is related to the understanding of an artwork where looking is an experience of recognizing and contributing to this activity. In the rooftop there is also a lounge/café room where different videos are shown for free or not.
In an interview, Graham states that he is would like to make really large galleries in order for artists not to have competition and feel free to present simple things. He is against art market per se when there is not intellectual interest in the content of art world.
Therefore, Graham as a conceptual artists, also at some extent a minimalist one, differs from Kosuth on his representational forms and some ideas, which are mostly psychological due to his ‘fixated’ use of mirrors and glass.
To conclude, the main idea of this paper is that Graham and Kosuth are compatible. Why?
Ernst Gombrich states that in the late 18th century some ideas were centered around primitive and child art, which consisted on the use of language of symbols not natural signs. Thus art grounded not in seeing but knowledge, so art operated with “conceptual images”. For example, kids are satisfied with conceptual scheme of tree not its branch and detailed characteristics. Therefore more important is conceptual construction rather imitation. Gombrich in more details states:
“All art originates in the human mind, in our reactions to the world rather than in the visible world itself, and it is precisely because all art is “conceptual” that all representations are recognizable by their style”
Conceptual art and pictorial images are just as looking at ‘different angels that still derive the same information’, and there are no correct or false answers. Also, language doesn’t give names but articulates our world of experience so concepts can’t be right or wrong. They can be useful for formation of description.
Therefore, Kosuth on the idea of art as represented by language is ‘looking’ from a different angle form Graham, but still both do derive at same information or idea, conceptual art. More importantly, Kosuth in his early works made use of glass as Graham did in his latest artworks in parks and the one in DIA building. Shortly, the later Kosuth is ‘closer’ to the early Graham. Both of them in general are against some museum conventions and do accept the role and participation of the society and culture as determining and apprehending works of art, though at some extent. Both of them would agree with Gombrich that: “The form of representation cannot be divorced from its purpose and the requirements of the society in which the given visual language gains currency”.
Still, while the formless and context of Kosuth refer to language in relation to art, Graham is more an artist-architect whose ‘public service’ of art is more exercised than Kosuth. But most importantly let me explain the title of this paper:
The story starts with the tower of Babel, which was supposed the reach Heaven. But God, in order to stop the workers raising it so high, he confounded their languages so that they were not able to communicate and understand each other so that the project failed.
This story emphasizes the importance of language. Therefore, even though Graham has a different interpretation of his pavilion in DIA, still it is language that made his art work possible. Furthermore interpreting or better say conceptualizing Graham’s psychological and psychoanalytical theories of glass and mirror, it is possible that mirror and self-reflection are somehow related to Narcissistic tendencies. Narcissus who fell in love with his image in the lake, lacked the understanding of the importance of the language. Thus he died because he didn’t communicate through language but “loved the image, object”, so he ignored language, and fate the fatal destruction of not believing in the power of language as building or connecting realities.
Getting back to what is being mirrored and reflected in Graham’s pavilion is not just some people and buildings of the city. What is reflected in that pavilion is what language has created. Therefore Kosuth is right in relating language to art, since the meaning of art is also to be found in language which built the city and the pavilion. Therefore the pavilion is a symbol finalizing the tower of Babel project, which didn’t arrive at heavens but at the highest pure idea of the concept of art.
 Hughes, Robert, The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change,Thames & Hudson, ed. 2002, p.334
 Hughes, Robert, The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change,Thames & Hudson, ed. 2002, p.334
 Williams, Robert, Art Theory: An Historical Introduction, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2004, p.221
 Van Abbemuseum. A Companion to Modern and Contemporary Art. Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2002, p.106
 Van Abbemuseum, A Companion to Modern and Contemporary Art. Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2002, p.101
 Kosuth, Joseph, Painting versus Art versus Culture in : Art after Philosophy and after: Collected writings, 1966-1990, MIT Press, 1991, p. 92
 Nonomura, Fumihori, Manga Dan Graham Story, in Brouwer, Marianne (ed). Dan Graham. Works 1965-2000. Dusseldorf: Richter Verlag, 2001, p.387
 Gombrich, E.H., Art and Illusion. A study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, The A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, 1956, p.87.
 Gombrich, E.H., Art and Illusion. A study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, The A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, 1956, p.90
Some of our paintings are missing …
Is state-owned art in safe hands?
By Brian Brady, March 2009
They are some of Britain’s most prized public treasures, jealously guarded by the Government on behalf of the nation. But not, it appears, when they are placed in the hands of ministers, ambassadors and civil servants.
State-owned paintings worth hundreds of thousands of pounds have been lost, stolen or damaged while on loan to government departments in the UK and around the world over the past four years.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has admitted that 19 works from the Government Art Collection have been reported lost or stolen from buildings as far afield as Jakarta and Sao Paolo since 2005. (Four of these, including Strand on the Green by Rodney Burns, were later found elsewhere on the same premises.)
Twelve more were damaged and had to be repaired at a cost of thousands of pounds. Repairs to two works at 10 Downing Street, which included a portrait of Sir Robert Walpole (for “tears in the canvas – cause not established”) cost £5,000 alone.
The DCMS is considering demanding compensation for the losses, recovery and repairs running into thousands of pounds.
But opposition politicians last night complained that ministers and officials were “too casual” with the 13,500 treasures in the Government Art Collection, which range from original works dating back to the 16th century to limited-edition prints. The Conservatives called for stiffer discipline to force staff to take more care with the valuable items entrusted to them.
“When people reach a certain level in public life, they are given access to the Government Art Collection, but this art still belongs to the public and it needs to be looked after,” said the shadow Culture spokesman, Jeremy Hunt. “These figures suggest people are becoming far too relaxed about the art that is on loan to them.”
Eight years ago, five paintings worth almost £250,000 went missing while the British ambassador to Argentina was moving to a temporary residence in Buenos Aires. The then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, pledged that his department took the safety of official premises seriously and was reviewing security at the embassy as a result.
The DCMS pushed for a financial penalty against the FCO to compensate for the losses but later dropped the issue. However, an inventory of the collection’s missing works has revealed that more than half of the 27 instances of theft, loss and damage in this period happened at Foreign Office premises around the world. Six mishaps occurred at the department’s main building in Whitehall.
Two paintings worth more than £80,000 were taken from Somerset House, in London, in February 2008. After a huge international police operation Shipping, by John T Serres, and Sir William Chambers, by Francis Cotes, were eventually recovered.
Several works were damaged because of problems with the paint or canvas, but in two cases the explanation was simple: “fell off wall”.