Instinct as Psychological and Scientific Construct

The term instinct is not as much used as it once was. This is especially so in the biological sciences. For depth psychologists (who classically used the term quite regularly), the problem remains: do we adopt this discarded leftover that science has flung from its table? If so, do we relegate ourselves (even more) to the disgraced ghetto of pseudo-science or scientism? If the use of the term (much like its first cousin, archetype) is bound to lead to further embarrassment and dismissal, should we chuck it out in imitation of our betters?

My feelings on this subject are mixed. To lay my cards on the table . . . I frequently use the term instinct in my psychological theories. And I do this with complete knowledge of its scientific disfavor. I use the term much more than I use the term "archetype" (which I use mostly just to make a bridge to other Jungians for whom archetype is a familiar piece of language). Still, I have trepidation about this employment . . . which I largely write off when I consider that I should not be bullied by blind traditions and prejudices, whether they be scientific or otherwise. To succumb to such bullying (rather than evidence and logic) is the mark of a less-than-rigorous thinker. And to the best of my knowledge, I remain a skeptic on all fronts . . . at least I strive to.

I don't want to delve too much into the deconstruction and analysis of the scientific prejudice against the word (and idea) instinct. Suffice it to say that I find some of the currently preferred jargon like "fixed action patterns" and "innate releasing mechanisms" substantially more flawed and unwieldy. Giving something a complicated, abstract name does not make it more scientific . . . and refusing to study something as a perceived phenomenon, instead breaking it down into bite-sized chunks more palatable to scientific mentalities is not as "valid" as the rationalist dogma would have it. For instance, as well as being linguistically or poetically flawed, such constructions exhibit a surprising scientific ignorance in regard to the phenomenon of complexity. That is, not every system can be reduced to the sum of its parts. Sometimes, when out of scientific zeal or vogue we disassemble a complex phenomenon to its component parts, we are displacing the object of study from its natural condition and, in effect, creating a "laboratory phenomenon" which may not say all there is to say about the original, natural phenomenon.

I believe instinct is a case in point . . . and I wish to champion its inclusion in the language of depth psychology. I worry that too much of value would be lost should we choose to reject it. Still, there are many valid reasons why instinct has fallen out of scientific favor. One of the primary among these is the unscientific misuse of the term by psychologists. Although by no means the first modern psychologist to consider human behavior instinctual, Freud is perhaps the most to blame for the misuse of the term instinct. That is, to consider the Oedipal pattern "instinctive" is to proffer a no longer sustainable idea. Jung was less inclined to use the term instinct, and when he did, he did so with an air of hesitancy. He preferred to talk of archetypes . . . even though this opened the door much wider for the accusations of Lamarkism (not entirely undeserved, if no doubt greatly exaggerated). Perhaps his disinclination to use instinct was a reaction to Freud's frequent use of the term. But what both men (and the schools of thought that proceeded them) are guilty of is the fallacious assumption that instincts are complex, higher order patterns that govern behavior.

That notion is no longer scientifically tenable . . . and it may be the common psychological misunderstanding and misuse of instinct as an inherited higher-order form that has encouraged biologists to disregard psychology that chooses to speak of instincts or archetypes as such. But the contentious point of this psychological construction is not that modern biology rejects inherited behavioral patterning (as may be the case in non-scientific cultural construction theories that perhaps represent the only remaining fundamentalist tribe in the ongoing Nature vs. Nurture debate). The point of contention is a matter of how we understand complexity and the construction of such "higher order" and otherwise "emergent" phenomenon. In Freud and Jung, very little if any attempt is made to see what we now call complexity in the construction of instinct. That is, both men were ready to assume (without much reflection) that higher order behavior patterns were inherited in their higher-order form. This is something similar to Platonic ideal Forms . . . and the Platonic and Kantian inheritance in Jung, especially is quite notable. [To be fair to Jung, though, one of the reasons he preferred to speak of archetypes instead of instincts is that he felt instincts were unknowable or unstudiable . . . what we could more modernly call complex or, my preference, quantum. This unknowableness of instinct did not seem to carry over to his construction of inheritance and actualization, though (where higher order, thus "knowable", form still seemed to be implied). He is very vague on this issue . . . and complicates it even more by also adding that the archetypal or "psychoid" realm is unknowable . . . making for a dense multilayer mysticism that Jungians are still trying to peck their way out of.]

The basis of my argument (against Jungian archetypal theory and in favor of the use of the term instinct in psychology) is that the connection of archetypes to Platonic Forms was a dated misstep . . . but once freed from this Platonic construction, the concept of archetypes is still more or less viable and not incompatible with modern science (* see my afterthoughts on this below). The fly in the ointment is the assumption that higher order forms preexist their material expression (in, for instance, patterned behavior) or that some kind of abstract archetype is coined upon the stuff of material reality like a royal seal of human DNA. But in something as tremendously complex as instinctual, patterned behavior, the elemental level (down to which conventional atomic materialism seeks to break objects of study) is not scientifically discernible . . . and the formation of pattern from these elements or quanta is a still-lingering mystery. We can posit the foundation of instincts upon such seemingly formless quanta through careful observation and analysis of psychological phenomena. But we also must consider the many precedents for such a construction, from matter itself, to the well-established observations of budding complexity and chaos theories, to the very structure of the organic body, the brain, to neuronal behavior, to DNA itself. These precedents do not translate into scientific proofs, but they offer many strong arguments for the consideration and hypothesis of a quantum theory of instincts. At the very least, we should recognize that it would be unscientific to dismiss the construct of instinct based on our inability to measure and account for every quantum factor that coalesces into the higher-order construction of instinctual behavior patterns.

We have (perhaps out of a prejudice of sorts) spent more time trying to measure and account for the quantum environmental imprinting factors that help catalyze or solidify the emergent order of instinctual quanta. At times, we have effectively demonstrated the arbitrariness of external and non-innate imprinting factors . . . and those with analytic or psychotherapeutic inclinations have observed that there are limitations to this arbitrariness, beyond which imprinting can lead to dysfunctional (not fit or adequately survivable) variations of patterned behavior. Some forms of Jungian analysis attempt to re-imprint instinctual pre-patterning (archetypes) with functional symbols and personages . . . although precisely how this works and is to be accomplished is still significantly open to debate.

But the environmental factors involved in imprinting and the higher-order organization of instinctual behavior patterns are not nearly as complex (or made up of variously interrelated and as numerous indiscernible parts) as the subtle biological factors. The study of these biological and psychological quanta is one that is not readily available to conventional (and comfortable) scientific methodology . . . but we can study instinctually influenced behaviors with enough accuracy to recognize that these quantum biological factors are significant contributors to the formation of both individual personality and human culture and relationality. The field of evolutionary psychology is still very young, but has already produced a lot of interesting data and ideas (even without paying the slightest attention to Jungian archetypal psychology, which would otherwise be seen as its natural predecessor).

Jung, in spite of some of his dated and otherwise flawed terminology and formulations of archetypes was a pioneer of a scientific phenomenology that I think can and should be used (with revision) to found a modern study of psyche and instinctuality. In the simplest sense, what Jung did that was bold and innovative was to pay attention to psychic phenomenon more or less in their "natural habitats". He was perhaps the greatest psychological naturalist. The tradition of psychological naturalism he bequeathed us has suffered, deteriorated, and fallen into disrepair. But like an unrecognized Philosopher's Stone, it still lies on the dung heap awaiting reinvention and rejuvenation.

That Jung failed from time to time as a psychological naturalist (contaminating his data with his own projections and the social constructions of his era, gender, class, race, nationality, and religion) is not the point . . . and we shouldn't let our Jungian complex of shame and disappointment embitter us against the "old man" at the expense of the fitness and survivability of analytical psychology. What is much more surprising is that Jung succeeded in this project and attitude far more often than either his contemporaries or his successors have. What is most worth cherishing and preserving in Jung in my opinion is his legacy of valuation of psychic phenomena. He came to the psyche as a devoted student and observer, more often than not letting it be as it would be, not herding it into the pen of an overly (or inaccurately) reductive theory, not dismissing its pathologies, eccentricities, and mysterious out of a socially constructed prejudice. The cleverness and intellectual integrity this took has been under-appreciated . . . even by Jungians. It wasn't some kind of intrepid, mystical heroism, a "manly" (and colonial) adventuring into the unconscious that allowed Jung's ideas to be complex and compelling. It was merely his ability to step aside without passing judgment on the spontaneous productions of the psyche that differentiated his scientific approach and his personality. He was an individuant (a term many Jungians still don't understand). He was able to separate himself from some of his cultural and tribal affiliations to look upon the psyche with less distorted perspective.

The soon to be published Red Book is perhaps the most vivid testament to this unobtrusive psychic naturalism. What is most significant about this book as a "Jungian phenomenon" is not that it will either prove Jung to be a first rate mystic and guru or a complete nutcase. What is really demonstrated is a devotional stance toward the natural unconscious, a willingness to let himself "go mad" or dissolve in order to enable the instinctual unconscious to self-organize. But whereas an artist might believe in his or her own myth and feel righteous in the fortitude of that belief, Jung the scientist also stood back and observed. He struggled to make sense of these psychic productions without significantly directing and determining them or making them fit into a rational or preconceived paradigm.

Despite the various isms of Jung's culturally constructed personality, in this attitude of naturalistic valuation toward the psyche, Jung was profoundly modern (or post-modern), rebellious, and innovative. The prevailing attitudes toward the psyche and the human animal both in Jung's time and still significantly today are (as the postmodernists might say) "colonial" in the sense that they are extremely colored by a kind of culturally constructed, modern egoism, an egoism that is not in a natural state of participation (participation mystique) with the unconscious. Psychologists, scientists, and even postmodern literary theorists and philosophers of language and culture have not adequately observed how severely the ego is formed and modified by the modern. Even as many cultural constructions have come to light, the establishment of the modern ego and the modern individual have not be sufficiently grasped and factored into an analysis of what and how we perceive and reason. Only fairly recently has evolutionary biology and psychology allowed us to start thinking of human psychology in terms not only of environmental construction, but also in terms of an environment of evolutionary adaptedness that is substantially different than the one we now live in (different than the "modern"). Different environments, different egos . . . as ego is (as cultural constructionists would have it) very much a product of the culture it develops in.

Jung was by no means immune to the modern notion of the heroic or conquering ego whose reason and rationality provided seemingly endless power to manipulate environment. It is evident in his frequent warnings about the dangers of the unconscious, of madness, in his sexist colorings of anima and animus, in his prescription of building ego strength as a resistance against the seductive dangers of the deep psyche. And yet, he also criticized the egoism of Western man in a truly postmodern fashion, relativized it, did not see it as purely good or as inevitable. He saw its sickness . . . that it lacked relationship with "soul" (or what I would call instinct). Jung struggled with his own tendency to look upon psyche with a colonialist lens. That inner war was neither won nor lost . . . while battles were won on both sides. But even in his failure to consistently get outside the modernist construct entirely or consistently, he succeeded significantly more than many others.

Today, although still very rich, very fertile, Jung's writing is not going to give us answers to the Problem of the Modern. But I would argue that this is not why we should read, preserve, and carry on the legacy of Jung. That is the most common Jungian error. We see Jung's examples and theories as prescient ways of answering mysterious questions about ourselves and about the psyche . . . or else we are frustrated with the seeming inability of these things to answer our modern and postmodern questions, and we react with bitterness against Jung's "mistakes". But I don't think this is the way Jung should be read. That is to read Jung as if trapped within the construct (or complex) Jung himself struggled to achieve an outside perspective on. We need a new perspective . . . one that is not stuck entirely in the complex of either the modern or of Jungianism. It is not the answers either posited or implied by Jung that are of such great value, it is his struggle to deconstruct the modern ego, his attitude of valuation toward the instinctual unconscious. It is not what he produced but how he proceeded that should be preserved in the Jungian legacy. And it is this procedure and attitude that remain least understood in both our analyses of Jung the man and our in our Jungian and post-Jungian psychologies.

Jungianism, Postmodernism, and Language

Perhaps starting with James Hillman (who has himself moved away from this experiment since), Jungianism decided to strike up an affair with postmodernism or postmodern academic philosophies, poststructuralism, the French and French-influenced theorists of language and culture, etc. It seems a strange coupling to me. The years I spent in academia were years in which my foundational Jungianism constantly came into conflict with the preferred postmodernist bent of my peers and professors in the literature department. As a Jungian, I felt alienated, suspect. Sometimes noses were turned up at me or my writing was received with perplexed head scratching. But mostly, my professors and peers were non-judgmental and treated me as a somewhat exotic fascination. During the 10 plus years that I muddled through higher education, I tried desperately to conceal (or at least desired to succeed at the concealment of) my Jungianism. I tried to write and speak in non-Jungian terms (while maintaining an allegiance to Jungian ways of thinking). It was extremely frustrating to, for instance, try to analyze a text that exhibits an anima or a shadow figure and not stumble off into "Jungianisms". But there was no other language (known to me) that illuminated these archetypal phenomena (which are so often prevalent in literary texts).

In my fiction and poetry writing, it was even more anxiety-producing to be a Jungian author wielding archetypal themes and constructing and deconstructing my literary characters with an analyst's understanding of psychopathology and individuation. In the non-Jungian academic world of literature, anything "dream-like" is seen as belonging to the surrealist tradition. Such "surrealists" who also happen to be American are in for an especially rough time, because American literature has never developed a true surrealist tradition. Without embarking into an extensive literary theory argument, allow me to just propose (for the sake of this essay) that there are two main branches in the surrealist tradition (which more or less originates with the original modernism of the early 20th century). I think this will all tie in, so please bear with me.

One trend I would call "French surrealism", and it is characterized by a sense of dreamlike play, juxtaposition of terms and images, almost a kind of cut-up or montage where the "hit" the art creates is a matter of the shock and puzzlement these unusual couplings generate. It does at times demonstrate archetypal themes . . . but these are diluted with very heady, ideological, rather religious concepts about what the art is doing, what statements it is making (to the "bourgeoisie"). As a Jungian, I tend to see this surrealism as naive. It is like an active imagination in which the imaginer doesn't really shut off his or her ego, so conscious attitudes blend in with unconscious ones. But the artist cannot differentiate these. This kind of "French surrealist" shocks only the bourgeois construction in his or her own personality, but remains rather deluded about the rest of the world. There is a puer narcissism to this trapped, delusional inwardness, a grandiosity.

The other branch of surrealism is hard to name. It could be called "political surrealism" (but the "French surrealists", who need not be French, of course, would claim that their naive, puer surrealism is also making political statements). It could be called "spontaneous surrealism", because it erupts more like a vision or dream, quite naturally and autonomously from the psyche . . . and is not heavily constructed and egoically intruded upon like "French surrealism". But I think I will call this branch of surrealism the "surrealism of necessity", because it is characterized by reactive and compensating push of the unconscious that pushes back against oppressive egoic attitudes (what I would associate with the Demon). It is a reaction necessitated by oppression . . . it is not a conscious deconstruction and mockery of that oppression. This "surrealism of necessity" erupts subversively out of cultures oppressed by fascism and totalitarianism . . . so it can be seen most clearly in the modernist writing from Spain, Latin America, Russia, and Eastern Europe. This kind of surrealism can even be appreciated by "common people" (unlike "French surrealism", which is really only for an elite, self-proclaimed intelligentsia). It is at times (especially in its Latin incarnations) very romantic and passionate . . . by American standards, perhaps somewhat embarrassingly so. To my mind, this "surrealism of necessity" is not a naive surrealism, nor is it chained up within a bubble of delusion like the puer "French" variety. It is a truly dangerous surrealism, because it delves down into instinctual drives to organize, adapt, and survive what oppresses it.

In American literature, almost all of the surrealist influence comes from the "French" school . . . and that influence remains (as this school always was) elitist, academic, detached from the "folk". It thrives in the quasi-nonsense writing one sees in many contemporary literary journals and Master of Fine Arts programs in poetry writing . . . a culture entirely isolated from the larger reality and the collective psychology of the "folk" population. American poetry had a brief flirtation with the "surrealism of necessity", mostly during the 60s and 70s and primarily at the hands of the Jungian poet, Robert Bly, who championed and translated some of this poetry. But (I would argue) Bly was in some ways his own worst enemy. Even as his translations and championings influenced a number of poets, his attempt to recreate a surrealism of necessity in America (sometimes called the Deep Image school) was flawed by his own personal interpretations and ideals . . . and his own take on Jungianism. I like and was influenced as a poet by much of what Bly translated and wrote, but I do not think that he managed to create (or ever understand) an American "surrealism of necessity". He was (like so many of us), a bit too seduced by the numinousness of the unconscious and by the New Age excitations that clouded and popularized (or bastardized) Jungian ideas. Also, he had/has a flair for movements, a bit of a puer weakness for guruism (which he reacts to with a programme of rigid senexism).

But more than by the obstacles of his own personality, his dream of an American "surrealism of necessity" was, I think, undermined by his inability to really understand the fascism of American culture and life. Although by no means a fascist himself, I think Bly's quasi-pathological desire to embrace and embody the senex (and his shame at his own puerism) prevents him from being a sufficient cultural critic where American fascism is concerned. Fascism is a very paternalistic force that seeks to conform and indoctrinate . . . and control underlings. It is easy for some of this fascism to slip into the guise of "initiation" into adulthood and social responsibility. If the culture is sick, "initiation" into it is initiation into that sickness. It takes something of the puer spirit to break down those diseased walls and barriers . . . even if puers are not the best "rebuilders" of society. Of course Bly has been a cultural critic, especially of American Puritanism . . . and of course, Bly is a first rate puer. But it is that desire to be a senex (as well as his "untouchable" puer shadow) that ultimately limits the long-term value of his criticism.

To be fair to Bly (who has made numerous excellent contributions . . . especially with his Jungian analysis of the Grimm's fairytale "Iron Hans" . . . less so with his management of the cultural movement following the social phenomenon of that book), American artists have unanimously struggled to grasp the "silent fascism" inherent in American culture. It appears to be so subtle . . . beneath the very complex and dense propaganda of American democracy and "opportunity". Even those who sense it have failed to allow a genuinely reactive/compensatory response from the unconscious drive their art (in the way other cultures' "surrealisms of necessity" have). Most of the truly astute cultural critics of Americanism are rationalists who have engaged in their critiques through journalism and non-fiction writing (Noam Chomsky is perhaps the posterboy for this approach). But these rationalist critics are not getting through adequately to the "folk" or to any kind of "folk art". There is a massive disconnect in American culture between fairly academic and rational cultural criticism and common sense, "working class" skepticism about power. We have no "labor party" (the Red Scare crushed the original stirrings of anything like that). Our unions have largely been diluted/polluted or crushed by corporate power. Our voting working-middle class population consistently votes against its own best interests in favor of disingenuous, self-serving propaganda spewed by the wealthy, "right wing" elite. We are consistently distracted, misinformed, and deceived by a mainstream media whose agendas we often fail to comprehend. We live within a muddle of language and spin that manages to oppress us while also misdirecting our frustration and reactions away from the real culprits. We are prisoners of our own (often selfish and petty) desires, which are the "family jewels" by which the fascist and powerful elite have us snared.

Language is in an Orwellian predicament. And what Jungians and Robert Bly and many others fail to adequately comprehend is that we can no longer say, "Rah, rah for the soul! Follow your bliss! Find your sacred space!", because there are innumerable "entrepreneurs" out there waiting to take us by the hand (and wallet) and lead us to the dens of their own usage and manipulation. And because sacred space can no longer be found, healthy tribalism can no longer be found. It has to be recreated. I don't mean to cast out a wild cry of paranoia and impending doom. What I mean to suggest is that we need to be much more careful about the way we use language. Ideas and the language they are conveyed in are not innocuous. The conscious and sophisticated understanding of both text and subtext is both more difficult and more urgent than every before. One of the major Jungian failings in the attempt of Jungianism to find its way into the 21st century is a failure to be savvy enough with its languaging.

Even as some Jungians begin to embrace postmodernist jargon and tribal ideas, I am struck with the great naivete of Jungians in regard to the modern world. The heady, highly abstract, linguistic finger traps of academic poststructuralism have found their ways into the new "Jungian academicism" . . . and we find ourselves looking at the writing of a Wolfgang Giegerich like it is a new holy mysticism. We fail to see that it is (not entirely, but significantly) a rather blurry, muddied mash-up of (already outdated) postmodernist babble and Jungian fantasy and "numen addiction". We seem to lack the tools to boil such language down to what it is really saying. We are like 50% of the American working-middle class population who vote against their best interests.

Our relationship with post-Freudian psychoanalysis is not much different. Psychoanalysts have always had a bit more interest in postmodernist theories (and have even contributed significantly to these theories) than Jungians. But as we have come to adopt the influx of psychoanalytic languagings into our already foggy Jungian lexicon, we have done so without adequate comprehension or analysis of the origins and construction of this language. That is, we have failed to be adequately "postmodernist" in the deconstruction of the syncretism between psychoanalysis and Jungianism. And there is a major complex brewing here (as there has always been . . . as evidenced by the initial split between Freud and Jung, still inadequately understood). If we think we can heroically (and egoically) rise above all of the pathological inheritances of this tribal splintering "by will alone", we are immensely naive. My take on Jungianism is precisely this . . . and it is glimpsed in all fronts of our "post-Jungianism". It is deeply characterized by an immense naivete toward the modern and toward the construction and function of language. Our Jungian languaging does not know itself . . . and it does not know others or comprehend the complex dynamics of extra-tribal relationality. We continue to blindly act against our own best interests and against the best interests (or survivability) of analytical psychology. We are babes in the woods of the modern . . . posturing as wise old women and men. So long as we remain incapable of recognizing and valuating our naive puerism, we live within the shadow of the puer, within the "mother-bound" delusion that the small world or prison we have absolute dominion over and access to is the larger world in which everyone lives.

The term, instinct, has a great potential usefulness to Jungian psychology, because it is through . . . not the specific word, but its model of languaging that we can begin to work consciously and creatively at the modernization of our language and ideas. I think it is commendable that Jung choose terms for his psychological theory that had extensive histories. He made a conscious choice to stay as far away as possible from neologisms. He wanted a language that was classic, that was immediately understood on an intuitively level. Terms like archetype, anima, shadow have historical and intuitive resonance. Jung saw that what was meant by, for instance, anima, hundreds of years before his birth was not at all incompatible with a modernized psychological understanding of the term. And this intuitive/historical understanding was the "prima materia" of the concept . . . the definition and scientific elaboration of the concept was the "Art that perfects Nature". Jung made a very powerful comment on the modern and on the materialistic rationalism that was (and generally remains) the tribal dogma of scientists of Jung's era. Jung was in effect saying that human beings have always understood these things like anima and shadow and Self, but as culture developed, language changed . . . and language must keep changing in order to continue to be able to speak about these psychic "facts". Modern materialistic rationalism has sought to overpower this trend by forcing phenomena into a strict language that doesn't evolve and is the province only of the elite. That Latin terminology is used in the natural sciences is a kind of testament to the colonial power and conquering of otherness that fed Roman pride during the height of its empire.

But to Jung, it was not the ego that "invented" these psychic phenomena . . . nor can the ego ever reduce them to a conquered "truth". The power to language does not work this way, and it is only our modern delusion that convinces us it can. The real usefulness of a "Scientific" or highly precise and sophisticated languaging is in its adaptability, its openness to endless data accumulation and analysis, to change. But a scientific language that truncates its data sets, prejudicially dismissing all of the languaging history that came before it actually fails to be truly scientific. Instead, it is arrogant in its assumption that only modern knowledge is valuable . . . and all else was merely an ignorant error. This is especially problematic in psychology, a young field by name, but an ancient field in terms of its data accumulation. There were innumerable great "psychologists" before modern psychology emerged in the late 19th century. Modern psychology is still wrestling with its 19th century prejudices . . . and although Jung was also quite often a victim of those prejudices, he also, at other times, stood out against them, became aware that they were flawed cultural constructions that impaired the real potential a scientific psychology had.

When we ponder the rejection of the term instinct, we should not be proudly ignorant and dismissive of the past . . . nor should we imagine that we are making a modern and novel decision. The battle with the concept of instinct is millennia old. What we think of as a modern rationalism that would dismiss the "doughy" and dated term instinct is not in any way a modern or rational construct. Instinct was being devalued and turned into what we have now inherited at least since Platonism. In nearly 2000 years of Christianity, instinct has constantly been under attack, rendered simplistic, dangerous to rational intellect, morality, and human culture, demonized. Scientific materialism has inherited this browbeaten and demonized concept of instinct from Christianity . . . and only very recently has some of this Christian/Platonic prejudice been stripped away. Still, evolutionary biologists and cultural anthropologists are not necessarily linguistic specialists. They do not (by the standards of their field) examine the history of language and languaging . . . and are generally not aware that the concept of instinct they have inherited has been the victim of thousands of years of intense propaganda.

Thousands of years ago, of course, the concept wasn't called "instinct", but more typically "Matter" or characterized by the element "Earth". It was often confused with the Feminine, with sexual drive and aggression. The Platonic inheritance is one in which such Matter is rendered non-intelligent and non-complex. "Spirit" was imbued with all that was taken from Matter. In its Christian manifestation an experimental treatment was devised for this "rape of Matter". That treatment was known as alchemy . . . a chief occupation of which was the revaluation or "ensoulment" of Matter or Earth. But the language of alchemy, although not lacking in sophistication and insight, remained arcane (perhaps in part out of fear of persecution for heresy . . . or maybe out of an inbred sense of shame regarding the potential of such heresy).

This alchemical revaluation of Matter was taken up in a new language by Jung. And even as he made significant inroads into modern thought with such a revaluation, Jung was, ultimately, a modern scientific rationalist. He was not only this, but he was undeniably and extensively also this. The alchemical revaluating process is incomplete in Jung's thinking . . . and he himself did not manage to fully understand his work in this way (even as he recognized its parallels with alchemy). For instance, he could not understand the revaluation of instinct as something entirely accessible to scientific, even rational intelligence. He seemed to feel that some element of mysticism was still required, that the approach to instinct had to be taken through a dual and polarized understanding of spirit and matter. He did not quite grasp (although he came infinitesimally close, especially in his essays about spirit and matter as polarized phenomena) that spirit and matter are linguistic dissociations of one thing, and that the dissociation of this thing was not essential to human understanding but was the product of centuries of a prevailing human cultural prejudice.

Today, we are again approaching the realization and revaluation of instinct that Jung very nearly achieved. We have to thank the fields of evolutionary biology and psychology as well as the insights of chaos and complexity theories. That is, through these new languagings, we are learning to see complexity in previously debased instincts and behavior organizers. In some ways, these fields have revaluated instinct far beyond Jung's own efforts. But these fields have not analyzed the cultural construction of rationalistic materialism as extensively and effectively as Jung did. They, for instance, would do away with the data and thinking of the past relating to instinct . . . including Jung's. And that prejudice stunts the scientific progress of evolutionary psychology. Psychological phenomena like art and religion are sometimes still explained away as "irrational" or "purposeless" by some evolutionary psychologists. The understanding of religion and culture as products of complex instinctual behavior patterning is only just starting to nudge at the minds of rationalistic materialists (perhaps in a rather upsetting way) . . . whereas, of course, for Jungians the archetypal/instinctual roots of religion are well known and have been studied (in "Jungian" ways) for decades. Still, there is no unifying language in which science and Jungian psychology can address the devalued complexity of instinct. We Jungians are also guilty of continuing to devalue instinct's complexity with our sloppy, spiritualistic mysticisms and tribal totems. We could valuate instinct more thoroughly, more deeply by revising and expanding our language while editing out our temptations to construe psychic phenomena metaphysically.

Our dabblings in academic postmodernism do not facilitate such a revision. Rather, they are a potentially dangerous distraction from the revaluating (and scientific) potential of Jungian thought. Many of these postmodernisms are the ideologies of tribes for whom cultural constructionism is a totemic dogma. They reject "essentialist" or "innatist" notions like those proposed by both Jung and modern evolutionary biologists. Their bias (not unlike the old Platonic/Christian bias) has it that complexity in human behavior is entirely the product of culture . . . and so they leave instinct debased and devalued in the tradition of Western culture. Perhaps even more tempting and dangerous for Jungians in their flirtation with postmodernisms is the tendency of these postmodernisms to grant carte blanche to all manners of linguistic chicanery and abstract gibbering in the name of "serious thought". That kind of languaging is just another puer bubble to get lost in for Jungians . . . who seem to be happy to be invited out to play rather than seeing through both the postmodern languaging and their own Jungian susceptibility to posturing childishly as "serious thinkers" backed by tribal prestige. As critical as I am of Jungianism, I feel it has more to teach postmodernism about the modern than postmodernism has to teach Jungianism. The decay of identity in Jungianism is itself a factor of a failure to valuate the instinctual complexity that has always been the foundation of Jungian thought. In this instance, that instinctual complexity would have to do with the ways tribes are formed, the way prestige in tribes is divvied out, and the way language is used as an unconscious tool of tribal sociality.

In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge and clarify that my argument for the use and study of the term instinct in depth psychology is an affective argument. I am arguing non-rationally for a renewed tribal valuation of a term and concept upon which (in my opinion) the survivability of the Jungian tribe depends. The argument is more complex than it might seem . . . and if it seems overly emotive or simplistic, I believe that this perception itself is a product of our failure to valuate the complexity of affect. Affect is an instinctual expression. It is an evolved survival tool . . . and no mere fight or flight reaction. It is the source of our complex organization as identities, individual and collective. We cannot go on talking about ideas abstractly. All of our ideas, our languagings have tribal and survival ramifications. The value of Jungian ideas is not ethereal. It is a product of our tribal fitness. If we are unfit, unadapted, unconscious about the organization and welfare of our tribe, we will fail to contribute anything of value to science or to the treatment of the Problem of the Modern.

One wake-up call we can take from postmodernism is to seek to overcome our naivete regarding language and languaging. We have a Sorcerer's Apprentice approach to languaging that is in drastic need of a good hard look at its own messes. How have we constructed our Jungian culture and language (and been constructed by it)? Instead of adding yet more ingredients to our unpalatable stew, perhaps we need to step back and try to understand how each of these ingredients we have indiscriminately tossed in the pot of our collective psyche has constructed us . . . and what the implications of these constructions are.

* How the construction of archetypes can be made compatible with modern biological science.

I did not digress on this above, because I have written about it numerous times on the forum. Still, it is probably best to give a condensed footnote theory on modernizing archetype here (with the assertion that this footnote is not meant to be an all-encompassing argument for what I will propose). Jungians have spent most of their efforts (when they've bothered at all) in the quest to make archetypes scientifically viable by insisting that they are present in human instinctual imprinting behaviors . . . but these arguments will never impress a natural scientist, because they are still fraught with the fallacy I describe above (namely, the notion that higher order patterns of behavior and thought can be inherited). No biologist worth her or his education would advocate that, for instance, the anima exists as a kind of genetic stamp somewhere in the invisible reaches of the prenatal human brain. Even the argument that a Mother archetype or a self archetype exists in this Platonic fashion genetically (pre-environment and even pre-nervous system development) is essentially impossible to make scientifically and not really compatible with the thrust of the field today.

My suggestion is that we need to kill this darling of Jungian fantasy, the Platonic archetype. But we do NOT need to kill the term or its functionality. Instead of the mystical "psychoid" definition of archetype that Jungians have favored, why not just define archetype as a taxonomic categorization? This circumvents all of the problems that the archetype construct faces in the arena of modern biology. One thing is incontrovertible about archetypes, those "classic Jungian" archetypes that we have been obsessed with since Jung first started to talk about them. Namely, as psychic phenomenon, they certainly do exist (i.e., not innately, but "emergently"). They can be easily recognized in innumerable works of art, folktales, religious narratives, films, fantasies, visions, pathological complexes, and dreams. It is not essential that these archetypes be exactly the same from one instance to the next or across cultures. Sometimes this is so, and that is synchronistically fascinating. But when they are left as categories, families of generally related phenomena, they cannot be debunked. We would not be saying, "Look there, inside the genome, that is the XYZ archetype!" Instead, we would merely be claiming that there is value to categorizing patterned psychic phenomena in a consistent taxonomy.

This is the stuff of any scientific study. We are merely finding the relationships, the similarities between certain phenomena. That is valid data. In the study of folktales (where many of the motifs could also be called archetypes, or at least archetypal) a similar taxonomy already exists: the Aarne-Thompson Classification System. Of course, the way a taxonomy is assembled is absolutely debatable . . . and if it could be rescued from a pointlessly academic exercise, I think it would benefit Jungians to make some effort to intelligently carry on this debate. But such a taxonomy would not be a matter of a specific instance of a phenomena fitting entirely into Column A rather than Column B. We can simply say that one of its motifs is classifiable under the Column A family while another belongs more to the Column B family.

Not only is this a perfectly "scientific" (methodologically speaking) way to proceed, we have already been engaging in this kind of classification since Jung himself, albeit without really valuating it for what it is worth. We have concerned ourselves more with "creating" archetypes or speaking of an archetype or complex based on a specific instance of it . . . say, a "Persephone archetype" or a "Perseus archetype". This kind of archetype creation is a perfectly useful exercise much of the time, as it can help illuminate complexes in certain people (although, mishandled, it can also blind us to understanding the psychology of these people better). But what is seemingly missed in this favorite Jungian practice is that such "archetype creation" muddies the construct of archetype itself and prevents it from ever being used scientifically. Archetype creation is a metaphorical usage, a poeticism. It is a matter of saying that a complex psychological phenomena is like a narrative or personage motif . . . and therefore can be seen as having more order and predictability than it might at first appear to. This poetic languaging of the specific psychic phenomena of a patient is one of the essential aspects of psychotherapy (as "talking cure"). But we need to draw a line between this poetic practice and the (would-be) scientific theory of archetypes.

In a scientific theory of archetypes, there can be no metaphysical speculation about "psychoid realms" . . . and the sense of numinousness that so often accompanies archetypal phenomena must itself be differentiated and treated as a component phenomena to be studied (I think it lends itself to neuroscientific research substantially). We must ask, for instance, why the affect of numinousness triggers or is triggered by archetypal images (as the fact that the two are connected is undeniable to anyone who has observed archetypal phenomena). Beyond the construction of a logical and sensible taxonomy of archetypes, a more speculative theory or hypothesis of archetypes can be debated. But the study of archetypal phenomena is not dependent on knowing or proclaiming an underlying metaphysical "truth" to archetypes. So instead of following Jung's lead of constructing a woolly hierarchy of instinct -> archetype -> archetypal image, I suggest that we just do away with the notion that pure archetype underlies archetypal image. All archetype is archetypal image. The "pure" category of an archetype is not "innate" and buried somewhere mysterious and unknowable within the archetypal image. The pure category is in fact an abstraction of the egoic mind, a construction, a way of noting parallels among specific phenomena. The "pure" category doesn't exist anywhere in the data . . . as Jung himself realized. But as a mental tool, it allows us to compare and contrast specific phenomena. It is a placeholder, an as-if, an mathematical variable, a zero. To look for it in a material universe or to construct a spiritualistic universe just to allot it a space to be is both unscientific and absolutely unnecessary. Archetype does not have to carry the baggage of totemic belief with it. It is not a religious artifact.

It may, of course, be too late to convince a scientific thinker or a scientific field that archetype can be rendered scientifically. We have dug ourselves a fine ditch over the last decades on this matter. But it is not "rationalistic materialism" that has been too daft and narrowminded to realize the "truth" of archetypal theory. Jungians themselves are entirely to blame for misunderstanding, misrepresenting, and clinging religiously to a construction of archetype that is simply not viable outside of a totemic, religious tribal dogma. The first and greatest obstacle between archetypal theory and scientific credibility is Jungians themselves who cannot relinquish the totemic belief that archetype demands a metaphysical ingredient. We want to make archetypal theory more fabulous and magical instead of more practical, more useful (and this is no doubt a reaction to the numinous "hit" the careful observation of archetypal phenomena tends to generate). But we cannot be scientists and opiate fiends at the same time. Such intoxication pollutes our ability to understand. If we persist in this selfishness and narcissism, this addiction, we will continue to have nothing to offer science . . . and we will continue to move away from Jung's (perhaps impossible and outdated) original notion of a universal psychology. But if we somehow managed to collectively transform the archetypal theory into what it is capable of being, we would find (and who knows, maybe then science would also find) that we were in possession of an immense and extremely useful data set and taxonomic system. Evolutionary biology and psychology have not yet managed to reconstruct as elaborate and sophisticated a data set as Jungians have. But they will, in time. Here is a place Jungians could contribute . . . but only if we are first able to wrestle with and reconcile some of our unconscious shadow issues.

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