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The Primordial Dance

Diametric and Concentric Spaces in the Unconscious World

Paul Downes

This book argues that a silent axis of the unconscious world rests largely undiscovered. It recasts foundational concepts in the psychology of Freud, Jung, Carol Gilligan and R.D. Laing, as well as in cognitive science, to highlight this hidden unconscious axis: primordial spaces of diametric and concentric structures. The author generates fresh approaches to understanding the philosophy of early Heidegger and Derrida, with the idea of cross-cultural diametric and concentric spaces fuelling a radical reinterpretation of early Heidegger’s transcendental project, and challenging a postmodern consensus that reduces truths and experiences to mere socially constructed playthings of culture.
The book, which also examines projected structures in modernist art, suggests a systematic refashioning of many Western assumptions, but it is more than a deconstruction. It also attempts to offer a new interplay between structures and meaning, as a spatial phenomenology. This significant expansion of the boundaries of human subjectivity opens alternative pathways for imagining what it means to be human, in order to challenge the reduction of experience to instrumental reason.


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I will always be grateful to Nick McDonald, Trinity College Dublin, for his support and advice with this project in its early stages. My thanks also to Aleksandra Jasniewicz for her help with the section on Memling’s Last Judgment and to Killian O’Rourke, Mater Hospital Dublin, for his com- ments on aspects of the penultimate draft. I would like also to acknowledge with thanks the support of Fionnuala Waldron and St Patrick’s College, Dublin, Research Committee. Part of chapters 3, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4 and 7.2 first appeared in Downes, P. (2003). Cross-cultural structures of concentric and diametric dualism in Lévi-Strauss’ structural anthropology: Structures of relation underlying the self and ego relation? Journal of Analytical Psychology, 48, 47–81, © 2003 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Aspects of chapters 3.1, 8.4, 9.3 first appeared in Downes, P. (2011). Concentric and diametric structures in yin/yang and the mandala symbol: A new wave of Eastern frames for psychology. Psychology and Developing Societies, 23 (1) 121–53, © 2011 Sage Journals. Parts of chapters 5 and 9.2 are based on Downes, P. (2013). Developing Derrida’s Psychoanalytic Graphology: Diametric and Concentric Spatial Movements. Derrida Today, © 2013 Edinburgh University Press, which can be found at: Parts of chapters 11.3 and 11.4 initially appeared in, Downes, P. (2010). Schema structure- content relativity. Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 17 (3), 7–43, © 2010 Imprint Academic Journals, while chapter 11.2 is based on an earlier, more expanded version: Downes, P. (2006). Newtonian space: The ‘blind spot’ in Newell and Simon’s...

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