Myth & Justice V (“The Birth of the Hours”)

This penultimate entry in the “Myth & Justice” series begins with an ancient yet still relevant mythic marriage. As mentioned in prior entries, the Greek Goddess Themis, a Titaness and thus associated with the passions of what has been called  the heart- or blood-soul, was brought up to Mt. Olympus to sit alongside her new husband, the Greek God Zeus.  Together they had three daughters, Eunomia (Good Order), Eirene (Peace), and Dike (Just Retribution, Justice). Collectively, these three daughters are known as the Horai, or Hours.

She-Hulk by Greg Horn

Lawyer By Day, She-Hulk By Night

Authors Donleavy and Shearer point out in their book on Themis that the Horai, or Hours, “are constant in their attention to human activities: their special charge is to guard the gates of Olympus and roll away the heavy cloud that settles over it, so dispelling the fog that may obscure the gods from human hearts and minds.” (37)* In no small part Mythfire has attempted in its earlier “Myth & Justice” entries to dispel some of the fog that lingers over the Roman Polanski case presently in the news so that a clearer picture of human hearts and minds, here termed heart- and spirit-souls, may be had.

A second related notion in these entries – and throughout Mythfire as a whole – is that the images in myth, such as Zeus, Themis, and the Horai arise out of the personal and collective unconscious of a people to give expression to eternal energies and ideas clamoring for recognition. That the Horai, or Hours, were also called “the Seasons” and “the correct moment” suggests, according to Donleavy and Shearer, that good order, peace, and justice “come at their due time into human consciousness, and are embedded in it as part of its own cycles.” (37) Just as the blindfold was added to Themis’s mythological kit hundreds of years after the sword and scales mentioned in the last entry, and, arguably, just as the ideas contained in the Magna Carta influenced and engendered further rights and freedoms expressed in the U.S. Constitution (which itself has been changed with amendments and may someday yield to yet newer “more correct and timely” documents), the Horai or Hours embody the idea that good order, peace, and justice are regularly born anew, emerging as a natural result of the not always easy union of  spirit-soul (Zeus) and blood-soul (Themis). This new birth depends on the needs or requirements of a given time and, in keeping with the analogy, is fraught with no shortage of birthing pains. Each amendment to the U.S. Constitution is reflective of just such a new birth of the Hours.

Mythfire would like to address two justice-related themes whose time may have come for consideration and implementation. The first concerns the long-held notion, expressed in the last entry, that there is any such thing as “pure reason.” Donleavy and Shearer show that Themis’s blindfold was initially understood to symbolize a specific truth needed by and thus correct for its time, the truth being that “nothing but pure reason, not the often misleading evidence of the senses, should be used in making judgements.” (93)** However, “pure reason’s” correctness for our own present time has been attacked from many sides, especially psychological and philosophical ones, over the last hundred years or more to the point that it is most difficult indeed to even believe in such a thing as “pure reason” at all.

C.G. Jung faced a very much related quandary when, in the early part of the 20th century, he noticed that he and two other respected psychoanalysts (Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler) analyzed the same psychological case and came up with three varying interpretations. If there was such a thing as “pure reason” then these psychoanalysts should not have arrived at such different understandings of the case at hand. How was Jung to resolve this seeming discrepancy?

He did so with the formulation of his theory of psychological types which is perhaps best known today in the form of the Myers-Briggs personality/typology exams.  Jung found that people have a dominant attitude or way of being in the world, either introverted or extraverted. Just as the latter way of being could be called out-going and focused on the objects, objectives and people in the outer world, the former introverted attitude is “in-going,” preferring instead to invest greater amounts of energy in one’s inner subjective world and the world of ideas.

Jung's Model of Typology

Four Psychological Functions

In addition to the two attitudes, each person’s psyche has four functions which operate along two poles and again vary as to which function predominates. The sensation and intuitive functions comprise the irrational pole; the thinking and feeling functions make up the rational pole. A good primer on this subject is Daryl Sharp’s Personality Types: Jung’s Model of Typology. In it, Sharp includes this quote from Jung:

“For complete orientation all four functions should contribute equally: thinking should facilitate cognition and judgment, feeling should tell us how and to what extent a thing is important or unimportant to us, sensation should convey concrete reality to us through seeing, hearing, tasting, etc., and intuition should enable us to divine the hidden possibilities in the background, since these too belong to the complete picture of a given situation.”  (Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 900)

This entry focuses on the rational pole of thinking and feeling which is not to say that the irrational pole of sensation and intuition cannot also be brought to bear on the idea of justice. It is quite easy to imagine – as an admittedly simplistic example – the hypothetical judge or juror from the last entry within his or her chambers / deliberation room using all four functions: sensation to read the facts at hand, thinking to organize and analyze the same material, intuition to divine other factors influencing the case, and feeling to evaluate and prioritize the various elements in the case.

Interestingly, Jung also called the rational pole of feeling and thinking the “judging” pole. Angelo Spoto elucidates the reasoning behind these labels in a quote that is highly reminiscent of the warring heart- and spirit-souls that have been front and center in the “Myth & Justice” series:

“By referring to thinking-feeling as the rational or judging function-types, Jung is intending to call attention to general similarities within the glaring differences of the pair of opposites at hand. Thinking and feeling are similar because they both operate according to discriminating and evaluative principles. However, one function’s evaluative principles are most easily associated with the head, and the other function’s evaluative principles are most often connected with the heart; one with ordering and judging to reach an objective and logical conclusion, the other with attaching a proper and personal value.” (43-4)***

Importantly, the feeling function, and for that matter no doubt the heart-soul, are not limited to or defined by emotion. Rather, feeling is “a kind of judgment, different from intellectual judgment in that its aim is not to establish conceptual relations but to set up a subjective criterion of acceptance or rejection” (CW 6, para. 724). This subjective criterion often emphasize the personal values of harmony and human relationship over the impersonal and abstract conceptual ideas of right and wrong held by the thinking function. However, as Sharp points out, “Thinking and feeling are called rational because both are based on a reflective, linear process that coalesces into a particular judgment.” (16)

To do the idea of typology (and its application to justice) justice [!] would require a much longer series of blog entries. What Mythfire has attempted to do with this brief entree to the topic is bring into sharpened relief the ideas of spirit- and heart-souls by introducing the ideas of the thinking and feeling functions. In psychological parlance, this sharpening of relief is called differentiation and, along with the consequent step of integration, is the sine qua non of becoming more conscious of who we are as human beings and why we do the things we do.

In mythological parlance, Mythfire has attempted to bring together and more clearly understand the union of Zeus (spirit-soul) and Themis (heart-soul) as well as the product of that union, the Horai or Hours, a.k.a. the timely re-birth of good order, peace, and justice. Mythfire would love to observe a panel discussion on how thinking and feeling as well as the other typological functions and attitudes could learn to contribute equally to the idea of justice as we – i.e., judges, jurors, legislators, executives, and citizens – experience and implement it. Perhaps typology is a psychological contribution, like the Horai, whose time has come to the fields of justice and jurisprudence.

The next – and last – entry in the “Myth & Justice” series will draw further from the notion of typology as applied to controversial comments made this past year by President Obama and new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.


*Donleavy, Pamela and Ann Shearer. From Ancient Myth to Modern Healing: Themis, Goddess of Heart-Soul, Justice and Reconciliation. London: Routledge, 2008.

**quoting Cesar Ripa

***Spoto, Angelo. Jung’s Typology in Perspective. Rev. Ed. Foreword Robert A. Johnson. Wilmette, Illinois: Chiron P, 1995.

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