Dissertation Title:

Western Myths of Knowledge: Particles of Stone and Waves of Elixir


William Michael Linn II

Date, Time & Place:

May 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm
Studio, Lambert Road Campus


Classical, scientific, and Abrahamic origin stories of knowledge establish grounds. Upon excavating these grounds, this dissertation has found repeated and entangled emphases on isolation related to a materially grounded cosmology. The core evidence for this position comes from their comparable displays of the psyche/mind/soul/spirit’s entry into and/or imprisonment within body, the symbolic restraint of Classical and Abrahamic progenitors with stone, and the initiation of philosophy—according to Aristotle—with a theory of materialism. Symbolic interpretations of the religious myths are supported by commentary from within the respective traditions.
Following a consideration of the existential implications of a material ground and (fundamentally) isolated self-image, the work considers mythic liberations of progenitors from stone and Einstein’s liberation of scientific traditions from material reductionism. As Einstein’s labors included an integration of wave dynamics into the way matter is seen, Herakles’ and Christ’s liberations of Prometheus and Adam are actuated by symbolic fluids. Later, their transcendence and atonement(s) are actuated by fluid. As is shown, Classical, Christian, and scientific knowledge narratives all contain reactions to a material ground of being contingent with the integration/imbibing of waves/fluids. The primary examples for this include the hydra-blood that freed Prometheus from stone and Herakles from life, the nectar of immortality he drank upon his death, the wine-blood of Christ that freed Adam from stone and his followers from mortality, and the form of waves and fields Einstein added to the theoretical particle.
This dissertation argues that the reason fluids have played such integral roles in the historical and symbolic transcendence of material/embodied isolation and Classical atoms (isolated matter) is because—unlike material particulates—fluids and waves are capable of union and harmony. My read of particle-wave duality is as a new foundation that challenges atomized cosmologies and worldviews leading many towards a vision of self as estranged from other. My final argument is that each of these prominent Western knowledge traditions present stories that follow a meta-narrative arc defined by an initial commitment to a materially grounded cosmology that is later enhanced—if not healed—by theoretical waves and symbolic elixirs.


All oral defense attendees must shuttle to the Lambert Road Campus from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria. Parking on campus is not available.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, Track G, 2009
  • Chair: Dr. Evans Lansing Smith
  • Reader: Dr. Keiron Le Grice
  • External Reader: Dr. Maria Tatar
  • Keywords: Mythology, Philosophy, Science, Religion, Wave