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Self & the symbolic environment: The origination of Chinese porcelain

Chung, An (1997) Self & the symbolic environment: The origination of Chinese porcelain. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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My general thesis is that the cultural environment is an influential factor in creativity and discovery. My dissertation focuses on that part of the environment which is the symbolic domain of self. This self is larger than the ego-self, and embraces a relatedness with nature. My creativity framework engages with self, drawing on insights from Jung's notion of a transpersonal self, and Maslow's notion of selfactualisation as a universal tendency.

The domain of self is proposed as three interrelating dimensions. The first is the ideational, relating to ideas, beliefs, and values. The second is the archetypal, and deals with the self's representation on symbol and form. The third is the paradigmatic, and concerns the expression or the suppression of self.

The origination of porcelain in China is my key illustration to this symbolic domain of self. What Maslow refers to as self-actualisation, it is argued, is akin to the cultivation of self for its perfection in traditional Chinese culture. The cultivation of self-perfection and its drive for a material immortality is traced to two associative symbols of self: one natural stone, jade; the other, cultured stone in Taoistalchemy. The thesis suggests the archetypal influences of these two associative symbols as a nature-culture synthesis for the origination of porcelain. Examples of early forms of Chinese porcelain with certain jade-like characteristics which inform the discussion are provided in Appendix 1.

Needham has acknowledged the drive for a material immortal self as a catalyst for China's inventions and discoveries. Needham's study tends towards a scientific outlook. My dissertation highlights a further domain of self for creativity. Although my case-study centres on the meaning of self in relation to the alchemic paradigm, I suggest that the notion of self-development has relevance today, with implications for creativity, technology and innovation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Hallen, Patsy, Booth, Michael and Chiang, Thomas
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