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An archetype (pronounced /ˈɑrkɪtaɪp/) is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, personality, or behavior.

In philosophy, archetypes since Plato at least, refer to ideal forms of the perceived or sensible things or types.

In the analysis of personality, the term archetype is often broadly used to refer to

Archetype refers to a generic version of a personality. In this sense "mother figure" may be considered an archetype and may be identified in various characters with otherwise distinct (non-generic) personalities.

Archetypes are likewise supposed to have been present in folklore and literature for thousands of years, including prehistoric artwork. The use of archetypes to illuminate personality and literature was advanced by Carl Jung early in the 20th century, who suggested the existence of universal contentless forms that channel experiences and emotions, resulting in recognizable and typical patterns of behavior with certain probable outcomes. Archetypes are cited as important to both ancient mythology and modern narratives, as argued by Joseph Campbell in works such as The Hero With a Thousand Faces.



First attested in English in 1540s,[1] the word archetype derives from the Latin noun archetypum, the romanization of the Greek noun ἀρχέτυπον (archetupon) and adjective ἀρχέτυπος (archetupos), meaning "first-moulded",[2] which is a compound of ἀρχή (archē,) "beginning, origin"[3] + τύπος (tupos), amongst others "pattern, model, type".[4]

Pronunciation note: The "ch" in archetype is a transliteration of the Greek chi (χ) and is most commonly articulated in English as a "k".[5]


The origins of the archetypal hypothesis date back as far as Plato. Jung himself compared archetypes to Platonic ideas. Plato's ideas were pure mental forms, that were imprinted in the soul before it was born into the world. They were collective in the sense that they embodied the fundamental characteristics of a thing rather than its specific peculiarities.

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