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Title: The mirror of knowledge : the mirror as an instrument of revelation in Greco-Roman philosophy and religion
Author: Fernando, R. N.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 8401
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis considers the role that mirrors play in advancing knowledge in Greco-Roman antiquity. It is a multidisciplinary study which brings together insights from philosophy and religion. The mirror's use as a didactic aid in philosophy is wellestablished, but my contention is that it was also used to advance knowledge in the mysteries of Dionysus. In this thesis, I will consider both the mirror and reflection, the object and the phenomenon, since many authors use the two interchangeably, and this approach helps to nuance discussions of the mirror. I will begin by considering ancient theories of vision and reflection, since this background will enable us to appreciate how certain ideas underpinning ancient optics and catoptrics could impact the conception of the mirror in philosophy and religion. My second chapter will focus on the way reflection is characterised by Plato and Plotinus, in whose philosophy it has a deep metaphysical significance. My third chapter compares the testimonies of two quite different thinkers, Apuleius and Seneca, and considers how the sociocultural associations of the mirror could affect its status as a philosophical tool. Finally, I turn to the Dionysiac mysteries, where we have some tantalising glimpses as to the mirror's potential to provide an extraordinary experience. My study utilizes different disciplinary techniques and applies them to diverse primary material in order to demonstrate that there existed certain ways of thinking about the mirror which transcend disciplinary boundaries. And I will argue that the different approaches to knowledge found in philosophy and religion affect how the mirror is used, conceptualized and valued.
Supervisor: Wyke, M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available