Breaking Jungian Psychology out of the ghetto of intellectual containment and into the literary and civilizational mainstream.

A book review of Evan Hanks book A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations with the Unconscious: A Subjective Study of Science, Religion, and Consciousness

Individuation, the blossoming of individuality, is one of the major themes of Jungian psychology. Jung’s empirical observations of his own and his patients’ interactions with the unconscious contents of the psyche led him to conclude that the concept of individuation was a key to understanding and making sense of this experience. He also recognized the self-realization derived from this phenomenon inevitably gave purpose and meaning to his own and his patients’ lives. Individuation constitutes a force that allows us to develop our potential as both individuals and human beings.

Jung’s empirical observations led him to conclude that the blossoming of individuality particularly occurred during the second half of our existence. I unequivocally agree. I would only ask how can individuality blossom before the individual exists? Ergo, the synthesis of the individual may well constitute the essence of the individuation process in the first half of the human life cycle. I believe Jung implied as much when he wrote about the young sometimes needing to be caustically disillusioned of their fantasies, in order to focus on meeting the demands of adulthood. Establishing ones own ‘individual’ position and place in the world is definitely a Herculean task taken on by the young.

In any event, Jung did not attempt to write a general theory of individuation. He had too much respect for this dynamic living and open ended concept to prematurely limit it to a simple and sterile formula that prospective analysts could memorize and apply by rote. He did, however, leave a record of his own personal encounter with individuation. He did so in his posthumously published Red Book. He also hoped others would follow his lead and record their own experiences with this phenomenon. In this way, a consensus and perhaps even a general theory of individuation could eventually emerge. To that end, he encouraged his patients to document their own personal encounters with the individuation process.

in his book, A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations with the Unconscious: A Subjective Study of Science, Religion, and Consciousness,
Evan Hanks has taken up Jung’s challenge. He has supplied us with a unique retrospective take on his own personal individuation. It is his effort to make sense and deepen his understanding of the profound personality transformation emanating from that encounter — a subjective one as he indicates in his book title; one that will undoubtedly deepen and extend our understanding of individuation. I will have more to say on Evan’s revolutionary and historic contribution to the study of individuation in due course.

Individuation not only transformed Jung’s personality and character but proved to be a primary source of his creative genius as well. Otherwise, he would not have attributed the genesis of most of his psychological concepts to ideas he originally formulated in the Red Book. The same applies to Evan Hanks. His experience of the individuation process opened up his own unique creative capacity. His metier lies in the realm of narrative poetry. Goethe is his heroic role model. Even a Philistine such as I can sense the beauty inherent in Evan’s poetry. Fortunately he also included a descriptive interpretive framework to support his poetic visualization.

“My head is crowded, night and day are one;
I search in vain the reasons for the things I’ve done.
The lion’s courage in my heart I thought was real
Is now the frightened victim of the pain I feel.
A dark entanglement surrounds the steps I take;
I stumble through the maze of each new choice I make.
Emotions once repressed have broken through their guise;
Faces once familiar I no longer recognize.

A strange force has turned around the world I used to know;
Right is wrong, the sun is gone, the stars are down below.
The mannequin of yesterday lies far behind me:
The tattered remnants of a man who once defined me.

At this point, i would be remiss if i failed to re-emphasize Evan Hank’s work is a retrospective effort to make sense of a life altering psychological transformation. It is a subjective effort, and there are times the reader may temporarily lose sight of the trail. With that said, this particular Philistine’s own incapacity for poetic visualization may be the ultimate source of this critique. If not, individuation is a mystery: a mysterious blossoming of individuality occurring in the second half of the adult life cycle, and one that gives meaning and purpose to an individuals existence. Yet, it is an experience that is so profound, far-reaching and transformative that the uninitiated may not always be able to fully follow the writers effort to integrate it.

So, what makes Evan’s book a revolutionary and historic document? How will he deepen and extend our understanding of individuation? It all stems from the intensity of his poetic perception. That will ultimately provide us with the battering ram to break Jungian psychology out from the ghetto of intellectual containment it currently resides in and into the literary and civilizational mainstream.

In the the first part of the chapter, An Objective Valuation, Evan mercilessly and relentlessly exposed his perceived failings as a human being. His critique was so intense and visceral, it vividly reminded me of another powerful self critique i had previously encountered in the literature. In the Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky’s central character performed a similar searing self analytical deconstruction. There is no way around it. The persona and the maladapted and collectivist aspect of the ego must give way before individuality can blossom. I fully understand where Evan and Dostoevsky were coming from. However, this led me to wonder whether Dostoevsky documented any other aspects of his own encounter with the individuation process.

Dostoevsky’s very next major publication was Crime and Punishment. Gone is the 40 year old Underground man, and a university student of exceptional talent emerges onto the stage. Yes, there definitely was a lot more to the underground man’s self-flagellating character than one might first imagine. The new hero’s youthful character is attributable to his individuality which is just beginning to blossom. He lives in an era before the concept of the unconscious was fully elaborated. Thus Dostoevsky placed the struggle to individuate within a real-world temporal context. As Edwin Muir succinctly put it:

“Dostoyevsky wrote of the unconscious as if it were conscious; that is in reality the reason why his characters seem ‘pathological’.”

His hubris and his poverty lead him to commit a morally reprehensible crime. This is literary character you must remember; one which Dostoevsky undoubtedly was using to make sense of his own encounter with the individuation process. Heinous as his crime was, he did not feel guilty over murdering the pawnbroker. He was a superior man — a future Napoleon in desperate need of ‘material’ sustenance — and he would perform many benevolent acts to compensate for his transgression. Yet, his action propels him into an unbearable world of suffering and pain. He doesn’t understand why. How could a superior human being, a veritable Napoleon be tripped up by the exercise of of his own superior prerogative?

During the course of his mad meanderings he meets his beaten-down anima projection, Sonya. She eventually helps him to admit defeat and accept his punishment. Only after he is imprisoned does his rehabilitative transformation begin. He finds his faith and then starts the long journey toward his own resurrection. The Jungian characters are all there: the shadow, along with the moral dilemma that it inspires, the anima, psychological change and turmoil of life altering intensity. Dostoevsky had the genius to depict the life altering transformative state of mind of the individuate. Jung also experienced tremendous psychological turmoil during the initial stages of his own individuation. This turmoil led him to question his own sanity.

Connect Jung’s and Dostoevsky’s acknowledgement and understanding of the individuation process together along with Evan Hanks’ and a host of others individuates’ accounts, and we are well on our way to breaking Jungian Psychology out of the ghetto of intellectual containment created by mainstream academia and the psychological establishment. Evan Hanks pivotal role in the process makes his book A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations with the Unconscious: A Subjective Study of Science, Religion, and Consciousness, well worth the read.

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Comment by klemens swib on July 14, 2016 at 1:03pm

At this juncture I want to acknowledge Beverly Hansen Weisblatt's effort to reconcile Jung, Dostoevsky and Individuation/spirituality. She did so in her MA thesis;

THE NUMINOUS ON RUSSIAN SOIL: A DEPTH PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
IN
THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV.-Pacifica Graduate Institute Feb. 2010

Abstract:

Several episodes of Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov (1880/2003) are examined to see how Dostoevsky’s conception of religious experience allies with that of depth psychology. A review of the literature demonstrates commonalities in Jung’s and Dostoevsky’s key religious ideas. This comparative examination reveals the role of spirituality in human life and broadens appreciation for religion in the depth-oriented clinical practice. 

http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/doc/205433455.html?FMT=AI

My intention in this thesis is to show how Dostoevsky’s views regarding humankind’s religious needs and his emphasis on the psychological and experiential nature of religion, characterized throughout his works as that most personal and primordial of encounters, forms a congruency with Jung’s ideas regarding the psyche’s essential religious function. _Weisblatt

Evan Hanks and Beverly Weisblatt have both made significant strides in the battle to break Jungian psychology out of the ghetto of intellectual containment and into the literary and civilizational mainstream. Mats Winther has also done yeomans work in this regard as well. His crushing absolute and total demolition of James Hillman's devious, calculated and self serving effort to derail Jungian psychology from within will preserve the Jungian flame, until it can find its rightful place in the civilizational mainstream. 

 


Organization
Comment by klemens swib on July 6, 2016 at 7:35pm
mats
I have not denied that we are genetically preconditioned to form a God image. In fact, I have supported this view. There's no doubt that the Self exists in this sense, that is, as a psychic complex. But this means that it should be regarded a God-illusion created by the psyche. It is there only to enhance our survival value. You could call the perceptive experiences of this inner illusion empirical.-mats
Of course your statement that the Self, a psychic complex, is a God-illusion that exists only to enhance humanity's ability to survive is just an opinion/belief. You have previously said you don't believe in God but now you say we are genetically programmed to create a God Image. To help secure our survival as well? Fair enough. You're entitled to your opinion and your philosophical point of view. As I am as well.My problem with your opinion is you use it as a bludgeon to keep Jungian psychology from breaking out of the ghetto of intellectual containment which it has been consigned too….
You do acknowledge we are genetically programmed to create a God image. You do acknowledge the existence of the Self as a psychic complex. Yet you consider them to be illusions. You are not alone. if not completely aligned with the mainstream intellectual community. The contemporary philosophers  Tacey refers to have trouble with Jung’s empirical observations/Jungian psychology as well. They have no intention of allowing Jungian psychology to break out of its ghetto of intellectual containment either. 
I suspect there is a very simple straightforward explanation for their prejudice against Jung. They have adopted and internalized our christian civilizations prejudice towards the soul and the unconscious while ignoring entirely Christ’s dictum that the Kingdom of Heaven lies Within You. This prejudice towards the Unconscious/soul is so extreme and severe that it led Nietzsche to proclaim God was dead. This prejudice has infected the modern philosophical thought and all but sterilized its disembodied adherents output. It also inspires their intense effort to keep Jung penned up in his Ghetto of Intellectual containment. 
I worded it somewhat differently elsewhere:
Unfortunately, the Christian civilization that succeeded the Greco-Roman world did not make provision for preserving the Greeks understanding of the Unconscious. One of the reasons for their negligence was the Greek instincts or archetypes, if you will, were denominated with Godlike attributes. Obviously the new ascending  Christian religion would naturally tend to want to eradicate the previously prevailing pagan Gods. If that was not enough, Christianity went on to  graft itself onto barbaric cultures whose connection to the unconscious were primitive at best. One way or another, witches had to be burned and pagan gods had to be repressed, stamped  out and eliminated. Though Christianity maintains, the Kingdom of Heaven resides within you, it effectively severed its adherents connection to the unconscious. Relatively speaking, the Christian mind became in essence a blank tabula rasa.
 Eventually our Christian civilization must restore its connection to the internal aspect of nature. In fact, it has already begun to do so, as Karl Jung's writing demonstrate. ”
Excerpt From: Klemens Swib. “Dionysos Archetype Of Individuation.” iBooks. 
Whereas Jung recognized the severe disconnection between modern man and his soul and rediscovered the kingdom of heaven within himself. This is whyJung is an anathema to the intellectual mainstream. He provides the antidote for the one sided deviationism   which was spawned during Christendoms centuries long struggle to survive in a hostile world. 
A postscript for mats:
previously you said you had some dreams that could be described as spiritual. You also said you did not take them seriously. Well a psychopath has a tendency to experience a good number of dreams where he is a goody two shoes. These dreams do not impact his psychopathic disposition in any way shape or form either. It is a compensation for his one sidedness emanating from the psyche/unconscious. Order and balance do have their day. 
Comment by Mats Winther on June 29, 2016 at 11:07pm

Jungian psychology centers on the realization of the Self as an entirely psychological goal, as the "completeness" of personality. This view is fraught with difficulties. Rather, at midlife, or perhaps later, one should have attained sufficient completeness, through the integration of the shadow, etc. In later life, the realization of the Self really concerns adaptation to life itself--in a way, one ought to establish a little paradise of one's own.

But this is undoable as long as one clings to the concept of completeness. In fact, one must gear down. This necessitates the realization of wholeness, but not in the sense of completeness. Yesterday, I happened to read something of Apollinaire, when he comments on the art of Georges Braque:

  • "This painter is angelic. Purer than other men, he pays no attention to anything that, being alien to his art, might cause him suddenly to fall from the paradise he inhabits." (Fry, E. (ed.), "Cubism", p.49)

Such a state of mind, which involves a creative flow, would represent the realization of Self. But he has become simple. So the theory around the Self ought to be rectified, accordingly.

Mats

Comment by Mats Winther on June 27, 2016 at 4:21am

I have not denied that we are genetically preconditioned to form a God image. In fact, I have supported this view. There's no doubt that the Self exists in this sense, that is, as a psychic complex. But this means that it should be regarded a God-illusion created by the psyche. It is there only to enhance our survival value. You could call the perceptive experiences of this inner illusion empirical. Yet it is only proof of an autonomous self-deception created by our 2 million-year-old human biology. We are being deceived. During near-death experiences, the unconscious creates a deception that we are about to enter the realm of divine love. Researchers have stimulated the brain electrically to produce similar experiences. Of course, drugs, such as LSD, can also produce such "evidence". An LSD user can have experiences of the divine.

But how are we to judge such material? Jung referred to such things as empirical proofs. But proof of what? They are only proof that the unconscious psyche is capable of producing a colourful celestial imagery. It's no wonder. After all, the human brain is the most complicated structure in the universe, as far as we know. The unconscious is keen on creating an illusion that there is a meaning of life. Of course, this serves to prevent depression and to generate the motivation to continue life's struggle. So these are adaptive illusions.

Mats Winther


Organization
Comment by klemens swib on June 26, 2016 at 10:00pm

Mats

The fact is Jung categorically says he empirically derived his concepts. The self being the one in focus at this point. Is it not incumbent on you to acknowledge and deal with the empirical basis of his observations and concepts as part of your critique. You just can't dismiss them out of hand in the same way as you dismissed the the life altering transformation of the individuation process and focused on considering individuation within a strictly intellectualized construct.

Whatever my statements are, they are always based upon experiences, and whatever I say is never intended to contradict or to defend an existing truth. Its sole purpose is to express what I believe I have seen. .-Jung letter https://carljungdepthpsychology.wordpress.com/category/empiricist/

According to Jung, the Self manifests in dreams, for example, as a horse, a tree, a castle, etc. This is the only "empirical" evidence there is.-mats

And the mandala too of course mats. The mandala complicates your efforts to over simplify Jung's empirical evidence of the self. Not to mention the intellectual conception of the self, he built off the foundation of his empirical observation. So let's obfuscate the issue a little more huh? Let's interject and say Jung dropped his original concept of archetypes because they and their attendant encapsulation in the concept of instincts was not universal. The ephemerality of the of his concepts forced him to backpedal 2300 years back to the Platonic conception. Did i interpret what you said correctly?

If we view the archetypes as they were originally conceived, namely as acquired patterns of mentation, then they are equally real as instincts. Is an instinct metaphysically real? No, it isn't, because when the species goes instinct, its instincts are gone, also. So that's why Jung's original conception was unsatisfactory to him, and it explains why he backpedaled 2300 years to the Platonic conception.-mats

You raise many good points in your critique. Yet it is incomplete because you refuse to acknowledge critical elements of Jung's thoughts on individuation and the Self. You are destroying/ignoring/dismissing those aspects of Jung's thoughts that don't fit in with your own intellectual preconception/conception. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it is done fairly. Unfortunately, Jungian thought is not going to break out of the ghetto of intellectual containment as long as even a semi sympathetic scholar like yourself is standing guard.

So maybe it is time to critique the critics. I will intuit that the western philosophical mind as exhibited in the classical Greek philosophy of Plato and Aristotle is a direct derivative of the PreSocratic Philosophy. That the Presocratic philosophers synthesized the objective reasoning mind during the course of their cumulative effort to discover the essential meaning of the Self. That this Self is essentially the same phenomenon as Jung's concept of the Self. That the sterile cuckoo modern day philosophers and the rest keeping Jungian psychology penned in a Ghetto of intellectual containment would not even exist today, if the theological quest of the Presocratic philosophers to understand the nature of the Self never happened. That you are using the intellectual tools gifted too you by the Greeks to undermine a primary element in the very foundation upon which western thought was erected. The concept of the Self. Is it any wonder, as you are advocating a materialist interpretation of existence. Yet Jung wrote matter is chaos. It is spirit which gives order to matter, just as your intellect strives to give order to your critique despite your materialistic credo.

Comment by Mats Winther on June 21, 2016 at 8:34pm

Orch OR means that consciousness has always existed, although in discontinuous form, because matter depends on conscious determination to collapse the state of potentiality. But the solution achieved is equal to a conscious realization, which occurs at the moment when the determinate material state appears. So at this moment a blink of consciousness occurs. I don't know why you're so negative. After all, Jung also adopted a view according to which consciousness is intrinsic to nature.

Religious awe is a primitive feeling, pagan in kind. We must go beyond this phase, and strive after the sublime. Get away from the Big Ideas. The alchemical gold is not chimerical because it is a function of creativity, a little fountain, which takes shape in the life of the individual. Its products are very concrete, and not illusory. Libido flows in the soul of the individual, but it is like a glittering rivulet, and it's not grand and forceful.

I have tentatively introduced the notion of 'complementation', signifying the opposite process than integration. Jungian psychology has a one-sided focus on integration, which is supposed to be an unceasing process. The unconscious is treated as if it were inexhaustible. But it is not a cornucopia. To have such faith is indicative of a mother complex, with religious overtones. In fact, to give life back to the unconscious is essential to achieve true creativity. For instance, a painting cannot be consciously constructed. Thus, the conscious function must be toned down.

Mats

Comment by Evan Hanks on June 20, 2016 at 2:58pm

Mats,

I appreciate you hanging with this discussion of what is essentially a conflict of opposites. My view is that the scientist speaks of 'quantum entanglement' because that's the only way objective science can interpret the subjective experience of consciousness' entanglement with very personal unconscious emotions it can't see much less explain. But, awareness that there even exist such things as unconscious psychic processes too profound to understand is presupposed in both ideas. Why would the same language be used to describe such apparently disparate processes? It's one way the unconscious creates analogies to express itself.

For example: "We no longer feel religious awe, since we know the phenomena to be predicated on electric activity, etc. But this only means that we have acquired a more subtle sense of wonderment. There is no need for a "re-enchantment" of the world. Jungian psychology has Neo-Pagan qualities in that the worldly experience involves the fulfilment of a grand wholeness, reminiscent of the age-old chimera of an earthly paradise."

This is your subjective interpretation of philosophical ideas (mainly Western Christian ones) which were the 'prima materia' of Jung's empirical research. Maybe you're projecting unconscious Christian values into it. That's not for me to say, yet I can't help but notice that the dreams you related about Jesus, the Moon Goddess in the "dead" of night, and the Holy Ghost, at least in terms of Jung's studies, suggest an attempt by the unconscious to analogize a split between the old religious conceptions and an emerging "Neo-Pagan" symbol which alludes to the reconciliation of opposites. Many no longer feel religious awe, though I think not because we know the phenomenon to be predicated on electric activity, but because we've lost our relation to a symbolic, instinctual language that transcends consciousness -- ego, intellect and all the rest of the partial human capacity for rationalization..

Just as a scientific intellect may think the symbols are meaningless illusions from its abstract view, it yet attributes them to assumptions about processes that are equally unknown -- how does one unknown outweigh another? This was the essence of Jung's work: that both the material and psychological sides of what is an obvious paradox must be given equal weight to understand how we relate to the problem of opposites consciously.

"To Jung, the sun is an apt symbol of the Self. But we shall not strive to fly close to the sun, like Icarus. In fact, it is the smallest planet, namely Mercury, which represents the true Self. It is the inner "life-giver", the subtle passion for life, which typically comes to expression in some form of creativity. This is the gold that the alchemists sought."

'Small' and 'big' are aspects of the same paradox of opposites that Jung sought to create an understanding of. His conclusion was that only the symbol represents a possible solution, as the symbol contains the opposites within itself -- not ego-consciousness and its partial interpretations of what nature presents to us. So, which is the illusion? The philosophical gold is no less an ideal than the Christian chimera of a paradise on earth. I don't know what the 'true' self is, but what I try to do is range up enough contradictory analogies of it to allow the unconscious to express itself to me in a way that somehow makes sense of my experiences. I know that this is what you strive for, too -- I cannot possibly do more than give you my interpretation of it. If it doesn't mean anything to you, that's okay -- only another reflection of the relativity of ideas in the mirror of a subjective consciousness. I had a dream also that, to me anyway, expressed the conundrum we face today in the opposition between rational thinking and the irrationality of inner experience. A voice said to me: "You've got a hodge-podge down there -- you need to make some emotions out of it." I get what you're saying, Mats, but my experience tells me there is another side to it.

Comment by Mats Winther on June 20, 2016 at 8:49am

I provided a link to my article about quantum entanglement, etc. It links to a site about Orch OR and also references books and articles on the subject. I cannot possibly do more!

We no longer feel religious awe, since we know the phenomena to be predicated on electric activity, etc. But this only means that we have acquired a more subtle sense of wonderment. There is no need for a "re-enchantment" of the world. Jungian psychology has Neo-Pagan qualities in that the worldly experience involves the fulfilment of a grand wholeness, reminiscent of the age-old chimera of an earthly paradise. In my youth I had a remarkable dream that compensated this notion. A midget approached me and pronounced:

  • It's better to be a little fountain that spouts water than to be a large fountain whose source has run dry.

This formulates a better view of the Self, namely as a little fountain, associated with the Mercurius. To Jung, the sun is an apt symbol of the Self. But we shall not strive to fly close to the sun, like Icarus. In fact, it is the smallest planet, namely Mercury, which represents the true Self. It is the inner "life-giver", the subtle passion for life, which typically comes to expression in some form of creativity. This is the gold that the alchemists sought.

Mats

Comment by Evan Hanks on June 19, 2016 at 3:26pm

Mats,

"...the 'wonderful qualities' of matter that give rise to consciousness could be what Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff refer to as the Orch-OR model. Penrose has in "The Emperor's New Mind" (1989) sketched a model of mind as intrinsic to nature. "Quantum superposition" means that a physical system (such as an electron) may remain in all its theoretically possible states simultaneously. Penrose argues that it is at the very moment of superpositional collapse that conscious awareness is momentarily created, in the sense of a realization of a solution."

That all sounds very abstruse (and a tad presumptuous with it's 'could be's' and 'might be's'), but it's only one model, and a rational, material one at that. It may be as close as objective science can get to its own conception of what consciousness is, but there is a good deal more to how we actually experience it subjectively with the functions endowed us as self-aware 'organisms'. I think you like that term because it sounds impersonal and 'objective' -- like "quantum 'superposition', 'superpositional collapse', and the theoretical possibility that the quantum universe 'momentarily' creates consciousness through the interaction of electrons, positrons and neutrons -- whatever they 'might be' (which by the way are not observable but are inferred from a theoretical model). Physical facts differ (or, at least they used to) from psychic facts in that they are directly observable. In today's science, though, the subjective problem reintroduces itself in the uncertainty principle. The uncertainty principle is not an observable fact but a theoretical one. It's based on a paradox that science is at a loss to explain but through the exceedingly indirect and subjective nature of human observation. This is a psychological concept, however materially conceived. It was Jung's approach to understanding our natures -- not 'the world' or 'nature', or 'metaphysical realities' -- but ourselves. Our ideas of it are real insofar as they exist -- whether as ideas that may be later made concrete or fantasies that may point only to a symbolic reality that is not yet understood.

"Stuart Hameroff has suggested that the 'microtubules', inbuilt in each brain neuron in great numbers, could serve the function of supporting and protecting the superposition phenomenon, thus turning the neuron into a quantum computer, in a sense. Thus, we have acquired a stable and continuous consciousness, unlike inert matter, which can only experience blinks of consciousness."

Not only does this not explain anything in terms of consciousness (it's actually absurd if you're not dazzled by the terminology), it doesn't in any way describe our experience of it. So, is it the microtubules, the neurons, and the superposition phenomenon that create our experience of the world? I'm not criticizing science and the quest for greater knowledge -- only your interpretation of what it represents. You're also philosophically inclined, Mats, and I appreciate that, too. So, what do you think Goethe meant when he wrote: "Who'll know aught of living and describe it well,/Seeks first the spirit to expel./He then has the component parts in hand/But lacks! alas the spirit's band."? The irrational aspects of what we don't know are what Jung's work centered on. We're entering a new age of psychological awareness that insists we develop ways of thinking about ourselves that are more civilized and related than the philosophical and religious ideologies of the past -- and the intellectual scientism of the present.

"I have not repudiated the symbol of God. On the contrary, I pointed out that it has had an adaptive purpose. Having meaning in life confers longevity. It is part of our nature to think in a religious way. I have had such dream experiences myself, such as dreams about Jesus, the Moon Goddess awakening me in the dead of night, or the Holy Ghost descending upon me as a blazing and penetrating white light. It didn't make me religious, however, because I know that these are illusions created by the brain, according to archetypal premises inbuilt in our genome, moulded by cultural factors."

The psychological fact is, Mats, that it doesn't really matter what anyone repudiates or believes except insofar as they concretize internal conflicts and violently project them onto others. But, the history of consciousness reveals that there is a purpose in religious thinking. What could it be for in terms of 'adaptivity'? To assuage us with happy illusions as we slowly exterminate ourselves? Unless we get some idea of what our material projections mean for us as human beings with unconscious natures we don't really understand, our investments in material science will only hasten the destruction of the only natural reality that supports us. As Jung suggested: brain psychology is tantamount to listing the Cathedral of Chartres in a textbook of minerology on the basis that it consists mainly of stones. What is fact to one point of view is illusion to another. This was what Jung's work conceptualized from the subjective meanderings of philosophy, religion -- and yes, science, too. But, just as the collective viewpoints of science and religion, considered separately, can never do justice to the other, material assumptions of the basis of life and how we experience it only lead away from our humanity and into an artificial world of ego-intellect. The unconscious isn't based on illusion -- this is a projection of ignorance based on material phoiosophy -- but symbols that allude to a psychic reality we don't yet understand. Jung's attempts to conceptualize it are the clearest vision we have of it to date. Any true critique of his work must first comprehend its breadth beyond the limited perspective of intellect.

Comment by Evan Hanks on June 19, 2016 at 10:45am

Klemens,

Exactly my point: to "break Jungian psychology out of the ghetto of intellectual containment" is to connect with emotions and intuitions that preclude it as a subject of rational science. This is what I value about Jung's contribution. Believe me, I "argued with Jung" every step of the way in my efforts to understand his concepts. The reason I undertook these internal arguments through thesis/antithesis was because something in me compelled me to. That's an irrational fact of individual nature that Jung revealed was beyond the point any 'intellectual acid test' or 'philosophical mainstream' can address. 

I don't have a problem with anyone critiquing Jung's work. It can and should be done. Critical thinking is at the core of distinguishing one's own nature from a collective program. To me, however, a proper critique must consist of more than mere intellectual criticism. When I attempt to look at the bigger picture, I see a paradox. This was one of Jung's major themes. The collective 'truth' is 'bigger' than the individual one, yet since the collective is comprised of individuals, any 'truth' beyond what can be proven materially is relative to the individual. Jung proved this 'empirically' -- which is to say that he established a conceptual view of philosophy and religion that had not existed before. When I read a critique of Jung's work that can take these irrational 'truths' into account without approaching them solely from a rational intellectual angle -- or a subjective philosophical one or collective religious one -- then I can compare it with my own experience. Since I am neither scientist, preacher, nor philosopher -- only one insignificant individual amid a mass of conflicting interests -- the only way I've yet found to make sense of my own personality is through Jung's concepts.


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