Philip Wylie was a preacher's son; mainly, a fiction writer in the 40's and 50's. His keen intellect tackled the controversies of his day through the characters in his novels. He was self-educated in that he had no degree, though he'd studied physics and psychology at Cal State and Princeton, "beyond the point at which doctorates are given." He was a critical thinker in pursuit of subjective truth. 

I stumbled onto An Essay on Morals in high school. It was dedicated to C. G. Jung's psychology, the conceptual underpinnings of Mr. Wylie's philosophy. His social critique became a guiding thread in my own search for a subjective truth. These are some of his ideas:

"What shall we do?" he asked, concerned for the deepening psychic split he saw reflected in the conflict between science and religion. He described its resolution as an inner search: "The answer for the individual is clear. Through the use of his conscience, and with insight into natural law, he can extend his awareness as far as he will.

"To be conscious of the instincts and conscious in the instinctual sense is his chief function. Learning psychological law and meditating it in the intellect is of little avail. It must be applied by the man to every thought and notion, dream, fantasy, memory and motive. The illumination that ensues takes the form of inward experience, of heightened consciousness, of the fulfillment of the newly educated mind through performance."

He explored the possibilities of a society oriented to understanding its nature in the interest of collective consciousness and not just for the benefit of a few: "I think... education could profit if it were to embark upon the serious, subjective instruction of wisdom in the order man has learned it. Anthropology provides the proper schedule for subjective study by the child."

These are things mature, intelligent beings ponder when they envision their children's futures. When did you last hear a politician or preacher express such ideas? Very different notions of profit drive today's leaders.

"The great advantage of the deep, inner realization that man is an animal lies in the fact that it reveals the amount of work and effort he must expend to accomplish his good purposes -- to use his virtues creatively and his destructive impulses for the destruction of that which impedes his consciousness, beginning with his ego. The very acceptance of our animal nature and origin and state is, in itself, the biggest blow to the ego. We have imagined that, as super-beasts, as animals with souls, or animals made superior with reason, there ought to be for us a quick and handy way to personal perfection and the achievement of Heaven on Earth. But if we know we are animals, we see how we must evolve, and that the more conscious we make ourselves, the sooner shall we evolve."

He saw exposing the myth of racial purity as basic to a modern education in a global community: "... national and racial prejudice is founded upon ignorance and fear... he is afraid of other races because he is afraid of himself.

" protect himself from the knowledge of his constant panic, he develops an arrogance of race... and nations. This, he passes on to his son, generation after generation...  its attending facts ought to be taught to the ten year old, and not just in college to a few candidates for philosophical doctorates.

"Next on the public curriculum should come that significant finding about man which next occurred in history: the discovery of the unconscious mind... The home and the schools of an animal that knows its universal kinship with beasts will be ready to receive the ideas. Sex symbols, totems, tabus... all the hidden, ageless patterns and data of sex should be taught so they are incorporated in the common mind and the common behavior.

"Society by then would be sufficiently conscious... productive of responsible individuals, and sufficiently understanding of its own instincts, to govern itself on a world basis and maintain at the same time, peace and liberty. Half of the ill -- the psychosomatics -- would heal. Prisons and asylums would empty. Common knowledge of psychology would supplant the shortage of psychiatrists. These gentlemen bemoan the incidence of neurosis and madness today. The idea that their science could become the property of home and school would irritate and maybe amuse them: they are haughtily learned." (Whether they bemoan it as much as exploit it today is another question.)

Is it just another ideal in our search for meaning? Maybe, but it may also be more realistic than any we've conceived; one which would incorporate our highest achievements through education. The subjective complement to objective knowledge, our psychic history, however, is still buried deep in an unconscious religious heritage, far below scientific inquiry, now to peer back at us through fractured ideological and political interests. Only the conflicts and prejudices of the past remain; that we never absorbed its wisdom is plain. 

Wylie saw Jung's model as a way to heal the schizophrenic effects of ideological differences though attention to our own natures; that we study ourselves as ardently as we study objects. Self-study indicates that we value who we are. That subjective "truth" is, in a scientific age, still defined largely by ideology and ego reflects an undeveloped soul (Russian philosopher, Gurdjieff, described it in the corporate businessman of the 1950's as a "small, deformed thing"). Why would we give attention to something we don't value?

As Wylie suggested, the recovery of the soul begins in the confrontation with ego. A recent shift in values was all that was needed to strip the bright veil of Christian ego-worship and expose its underside. The new spiritual authority is now the naked god of technological materialism. Sadly, for the modern scientific world: "... meditating it in the intellect is of little avail."

How can we be educated in a world where competing ideological interests seek only to capitalize on our lack of development? How do we recover the subject in a world of objects?

Don't read here if you're not concerned about the future.

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Comment by Evan Hanks on June 2, 2015 at 10:41am

Hi Debra;

Certainly, what Wylie suggested was an ideal, and the reality of it is another animal. There's another thing US politicians understand: both parties need each other to maintain the system they create and manipulate. The only competition is for show and a little upper hand; beneath the surface, a lot of money is being made, they need each other to keep making it, and they know it. Ideals factor into the production, I think, but are secondary to maintaining their secret pact. Ideological divisions seem to me more reflective of general conflicts of development. Jung maintained that when the opposites split far enough apart, as in the political atmosphere today, the tension holding them together creates the conditions for conversion. The politicians keep time trying to manage those emotions to their advantage (the rest is spent running for re-election) -- but, they know that to keep the conflict going in its present state is to keep the cash and the power where it is. Like a prosecutor and a defense attorney having a drink together after a day in court, they usually have it all worked out; they know they're adversaries on one level, but they also know they have to cooperate on another level to maintain their positions.

I saw Bill Moyers interview the author of "The Town". I think that was the book, I can't remember the author's name; it was about Washington, the money-hub. He explained how much money there is to be made, for instance, in a catastrophe like the Gulf oil spill. These are a class of people who are interested only in capitalizing on disasters, and to an extent, to ensure (if even unconsciously) that they continue to happen. A level below that is the local Iraqi "contractors" who swooped in at the start of the war and put up just enough of a ruse to get the money and run. One small notch below that is a common street hustler.

Remember when Congress used to routinely haul oil executives in front of the camera and grill them about gas prices? Imagine what they said beforehand: "Look, all you have to do is get up there and talk about supply and demand and play along with a little "interrogation" and we can all get back to doing what we do best." 

In some ways, a little fervent violence would seem the only way to humble such a value-deprived lot as would create wars for profit; though ideology, too, is another tool for exploitation that sooner or later will blow up, like every tool does when lack of knowledge and understanding directs its use. I think the fear of the unknown is only overcome by a certain desperation, and that's bearable if accepted as an inner condition. If it continues to be projected into ideology, it looks to me like it's heading toward the apocalyptic version of history -- one of the reasons I think the mental tools Jung provided for a real study of psychic history is so important.

Comment by klemens swib on June 2, 2015 at 8:09am


In my mind Jung was first and foremost an empiricist whose empirical observations in regard to individuation, the collective unconscious,the archetypes, the self, the shadow the anima et al constitute the trail blazing guide posts upon which the contemporary westernized study of the psyche must inevitably be based. I don't want to continually go over old ground here, so in short. in his quest to reconnect with his own soul he also opened up the path for others to follow in his footsteps. This is a commendable and necessary development but it has also opened up the Jungian community to a cascade of subjective and sometimes inflated and one sided reports emanating from all these individuals encounters with their own souls. This results in a cacophony of discordant and subjective perspectives emanating from the Jungian realm. Encountering ones own soul is great as long as one realizes Jungian psychology is at heart an empirical effort to map and understand the basic elemental constructs embedded in our psychic disposition. 

You may think this is an odd response but from my perspective I sense an over emphasis on subjectivity in your post. Hillman, Woodman and other post jungians have overemphasized their subjective encounters with the psyche to the point where in hillmans case he began demolishing the essential precepts of Jung's empirical observations. My first thoughts on the video of woodman denouncing the patriarchy [posted by bonnie] were gush and mush emanating from someone who didn't know we live in a post patriarchal world or what the patriarchy was all about. Collegiality zipped my lip but in my mind the subjectivity embedded in her valid  worthwhile and laudable encounter with the feminine and her own soul blinded her to the empirical framework Jung worked so assiduously to establish for his psychology. Otherwise she wouldn't have made such flippant and derogatory comments about the patriarchy. Hillmans subjectivity all but demolishes the core of Jungian psychology. That is indisputable.... I don't expect you will agree with my point of view but it is a valid one and is meant to be given in the spirit of collegiality.

   I think we can bypass altogether some of the concepts and language ---debra

I agree with this paragraph entirely.... archetype/instinctGod/ makes no difference to me. I use them interchangeably.... Some of the dimmer bulbs in the academic community crucified Jung for not using rational precision to define the concept of archetypes especially. The unknown is the unknown is the unknown but it is not necessarily totally unknowable so to speak. 

i wonder if i need to put on my flak jacket at this point.


Comment by Evan Hanks on June 2, 2015 at 8:02am


I wouldn't use the same words to describe what I think you're saying, but if I read your ideas approximately, I agree with your short answer. The only thing I would add is that the shift from polytheism to monotheism reflected changes in consciousness (pretty obvious, I know), but it also reacted to unconscious compensations which came with the changes. Jung showed the psyche's dissociability as inherent in its structure, and this is where I think the compensation lies: we have a desire for unity that the psychic facts now tell us is more a wish-fulfillment than anything else. We (I mean collective thought) should be able to stop arguing about that in view of the facts -- but we're not educated enough about ourselves to do it. To me, it underscores the importance of tuning into "what the unconscious has to say about such a condition" as Jung put it. Whoever is a fanatic is reacting to unconscious conditions which push in an opposite direction; the compensations exaggerate, intensify until the unconscious counter-position gains enough energy to bring it into view. The problem is that when it can't be seen as an inner condition, it never reaches consciousness. I think education is key, but at the same time, if we haven't reached a stage of ego stability that can contend with ourselves instead of projecting our conflicts -- then we just haven't. I don't know what more you can do but "keep beating the same old drum." But, at least Jung's thought holds out the opportunity for education for those who've reached a stage that knows it needs something besides conscious thought (or science or God) to improve its conditions. It is, as Wylie phrased it, "the age-old story of ego".

Comment by Evan Hanks on June 1, 2015 at 12:31pm


Philip Wylie confessed once that he used to get drunk and get in fights in bars -- presumably before a mid-life revelation in which he decided his personality was "disordered" and then became involved in Freudian and later, Jungian therapy. He knew more than even he could process in his younger mind and projected his lack of self-awareness into the nearest conflict that would engage it -- as we all do. Multiply that a billion times (or 3 or 4) in unconscious mobs whose leaders are intent only on maintaining control, and who knows? Violence may be the only option on a large scale. History recommends it. All I know is that conflicts change when people discover them in themselves and can no longer project them into group affairs. For those who know too much, I can understand how that inner process can swallow them up, too, in its own way. It's a gruesome world today, and I certainly don't know how it can be changed but by one individual at a time. That's not very encouraging, though, is it?

Comment by klemens swib on June 1, 2015 at 11:26am

    How can christianity be monotheistic when Jesus the son of God is included in the Christian pantheon. The Holy spirit? Mary? The operational monotheism of the old testament recognizes the existence of other Gods. However the fanatical  old testament god is unequivocally intent on destroying them. This old testament mentality has been embedded in the foundations of our psyche/intellectual heritage because men screwed up when they assembled and selected the texts of the Christian bible. 

    Modern man in search of a soul might encapsulate the essence of Jung's life quest. Monotheism has no interest in reconnecting with the soul. It is out to ruthlessly exterminate all opposition to its tyrannical imperative. The Greeks were connected to their soul and that connection to the soul provided us with the most and best part of christiandoms cultural and intellectual legacy. Jung was very much aware of marcion's work... The indexes for his collected works bear witness to that..

    and wonder if perhaps it doesn't mirror the shift in our consciousness from a state that was more animistic, or panpsychic, towards one that is now egoistic and homogenized?--debra

You can't be a jungian if you abandon the quest to reconnect with the soul... According to Tacey a good part of the reluctance to to accept Jung in academia revolves around the refusal to accept any higher authority than the ego. The Unconscious, the soul and even God are verbotten. Christianity by virtue of its need to impose the christian gospel on the psychically immature barbarians/pagans of europe needed to destroy their connection to their Gods and thus their souls in order to convert them. The birth of of the tabula rasa man is definitely a product of christianity but the monotheistic fanaticism of the old testament accorded with the christian will to impose christianity on the barbarians. 

Comment by klemens swib on May 31, 2015 at 11:07am

“What shall we do?” he asked, concerned for the deepening psychic split he saw reflected in the conflict between science and religion. --evan

In a polytheistic matrix science would lie in the realm of Apollo. An archetypal, instinctual or 'god given' capacity to give order to the material universe was one of the God's attributes. Is the deepening psychic split between science and religion based on the modern scientific mentalities inability to distinguish the forest because of all the trees. I hate to beat the same old drum but the monotheistic fanaticism exhibited in the old testament has erroneously become a foundation of the psychic intellect of our civilization. Christianity is not monotheistic. Yet a monotheistic mentality permeates our civilization and psyche... Does this monotheistic mentality blind us the archetypal/instinctual/Apollonic basis of the scientific enterprise. Short answer is yes.

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