Accepted paper:

The philosophical archetype of the ship: a boat-journey to metaphors, images and dreams


Chryssanthi Papadopoulou (British School at Athens)

Paper short abstract:

Phenomenologists and poststructuralist philosophers weave a philosophical boat-archetype. Boats are presented as floating hearths, nooks for the recess of existence, gateways to boundlessness, and primal substances of dreams. This paper views the place of ships through the eyes of philosophers.

Paper long abstract:

Maritime archaeologists attempt the revival of the places of past ships through the study of their remnants, namely shipwrecks. Materiality, however, is but one ingredient of the multiplicity that is the Ship. Increasingly mariners' and societies' narratives on boats are incorporated in the mental reconstructions of the experienced places of past ships. This paper shows that philosophers' perspectives on boats constitute yet another key source on the place of (past) ships. The writings of phenomenologists and poststructuralist philosophers weave the philosophical archetype of the boat. Boats are presented as floating homes containing and producing memories as intimate as those of one's childhood house. Boats are also employed as images of the dialectic between individuality and being in the world. They are protective nooks for the recess of existence and concurrently gateways to the embodiment of boundlessness - namely of the oceans. Finally, boats are depicted as a primal substance of dreams. They appear to the dreamer as metaphors of mind-wanderings, fears of seafaring accidents and/or re-interpretations of seafaring experiences. Through a journey embarking from the works of Michel Serres, Michel Foucault, Gaston Bachelard and Gilles Deleuze, passing swiftly through the straits of Jungian psychoanalysis, this paper reaches the tangible shores of mariners' accounts of dreams and experiences onboard ships, and maritime archaeologists' analyses of the place of the ship. Boats are presented as heterotopias, artefacts, hybrid environments, and rites of passage to self-discovery. Sea-travel is thus examined as both an experienced reality and an allegory of perceiving, embodying, and consequently being.

panel P23
Humanity at sea: hybridity and seafaring