Cybèle, Philosophy (LM)

The figure of Cybèle, also called Philosophy, sits enthroned at the centre of the west door of Notre Dame de Paris.  She illustrates the association between traditional knowledge and Christian knowledge.  She holds two books :   the open book symbolises access to knowedge through teaching ;  the other, closed, book gives access to inner knowledge.


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The figure of Cybèle, also called Philosophy, sits enthroned at the centre of the west door of Notre Dame de Paris. Contributed by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century, she illustrates a theme essential to the wisdom of a thousand years : the possibility of unifying actions and ideas is indicated by her feet on the earth and her head in the heavans. The two books demonstrate the ways through which the scriptures are transmitted : the first book, opened, points to direct access to knowledge through reason – public teaching. The other book is closed. It can be read only by the eyes of the spirit : for access to inner wisdom is never taught. A more historical approach can equally be read into this image: the Old and New Testaments. Lastly, the figure holds the sceptre of knowledge and, displayed in front of her, is Jacob’s ladder with nine rungs, pointing to the different degrees of consciousness which permit progressive access to God.

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Reproductions-civilisations