Author Topic: Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul  (Read 10580 times)

Matt Koeske

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Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul
« on: May 15, 2013, 12:57:24 PM »
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This essay attempts to look closer at the sense of "something missing" or "loss of soul" in Jungianism, something Jung arguably had or valued but Jungians struggle to grasp.  I argue that what Jungians are often missing is not something "spiritualistic" or religious, but a capacity to scientifically observe and objectify the psyche and its phenomena (and therefore to functionally relate to the autonomous psyche).  I analyze "objectivity" as a bad word in Jungian thought and culture and look at some of the context and history both of Jung's efforts at objectivity and empiricism and at his and other Jungian romantic anti-modernism and anti-science.  "Objectification" of psychic phenomena is interpreted not as "reductionism" or some form of "de-spiritualization", but as a necessary ethical effort to honor and understand an object-other.  Subjectivity, which Jungianism often adores and indulges, lacks an adequate other-object and therefore has no relational or intellectual ethic directing its sense of psychology.  Subjectivity leads merely to personalized fantasy, while objectivity allows the object-other to have autonomy and any investigation of it to become relational.  Additional attention is given to Jung's concept of the "personal equation", which I interpret as a "margin of error" that helps refine psychological observation when properly applied.



I want to make a topic on this issue for further discussion and development.  I have written about it in a number of other places, but I think it deserves more specific focus and attention.

In my ongoing excavations and/or constructions of a valid and sustainable "Jungian project", I have continuously run up against obstacles.  Two main categories of these obstacles would be 1.) Jung was notoriously and exquisitely complex, digressive, disorganized, and even self-contradictory in his constructions of the psyche and its structures and dynamics, and 2.) Jungians from the very beginning just seem to be missing something, something rather intangible, subtle, and complex, in Jung's project and approach to the psyche. 

There continues to be ways in which Jungians, regardless of how bright they may be, do not live up to and fully grasp something about Jung and his project.  This is not to say that Jungians have not far surpassed Jung's thinking in many ways (politics and social and psychotherapeutic ethics come to mind, although there is still much room for improvement on these fronts).  But something is missing . . . and many Jungians have sensed it and commented on it.  And many Jungians have made proposals about what this missing piece (Jungianism's "subtle body") is . . . and we all disagree with one another, it seems, as we have neither reached a consensus nor dispelled our sense of dissatisfaction and lack.

Like many Jungians, I think I have an idea what it is Jungians have always been missing that Jung had or was oriented to.  My diagnosis is perhaps a bit more (but not entirely) novel.  Most Jungians define the Jungian project (if they even conceive of such a project at all) as fairly mystical or spiritual and often psychotherapeutic.  It could be something in the family of "treating the sick soul of the [modern] world".  Jung was pretty clear that he was interested in this sort of thing, so this is a logical way to construct the Jungian project.

But it happens to not only be the "wrong" way, it is also a very diseased way to imagine the Jungian project.  It is really more of a puer fantasy . . . detached, romantic, inflated.  It can be maintained and defended only where Jungians remain entirely monotribal and insular and aloof from the modern world.  That illness is also evident in the effectiveness of this form of Jungian treatment of the "world's soul".  That is, it's utterly ineffective.  Jungians can get caught up in the fantasy of treating something that doesn't really exist (outside of Jungianism, at least) with methods that don't really work in accordance with a goal that is distorted into meaninglessness.

From what I've seen, most (all?) Jungian constructions of a "Jungian project" are connected to this world-saving/soul-saving paradigm.  It is one of the "Jungianisms" that connects the classical, developmental, and archetypal schools of Jungian thought.  In classical Jungianism, soul-saving is a spiritualistic and often occult/New Age phenomenon.  In archetypal Jungianism, it is a mythopoetic and aesthetic/philosophical phenomena.  In developmental Jungianism, it is a political, typically psychoanalytic (therefore, more "personalistic" and maybe "psychiatric"), and often academic phenomenon.

What is almost universally missing from Jungian constructions of the Jungian project is a scientific approach (here I would differentiates "scientific" from "academic", where "scientific" would mean based in scientific methods and theories of verification/falsification, the amassing of evidence for argument, and the analysis of data, and "academic" would mean contextualized by various citations and references to other academic authorities and not specifically oriented to data analysis and the presentation of evidence).

Both Jungians and critics of Jung have largely agreed that Jung, despite claims to scientific legitimacy and "empiricism", was NOT a scientist (or was a really poor one).  The general push has been to strip "science" out of Jungianism.  That is almost universally true in classical and archetypal forms of Jungianism, and in developmental Jungianism it applies to nativist and biological science but not developmental social science.  In my opinion, the way developmental Jungianism strongly favors developmental science over evolutionary/biological is itself an unscientific attitude.  Science should not be ideology driven.  It must be data driven.  To ideologically favor some data over other data (which are equally relevant) defeats the true purpose of the scientific method.  It makes for "bad science" . . . or more accurately, pseudo-science.

In any case, all varieties of Jungianism fail to adequately embrace an ethic of scientific observation, an empirical orientation to the psyche.  All varieties of Jungianism approach the psyche through theoretical paradigms and belief systems that are not themselves scrutinized (although they might scrutinize one another).  No Jungianism is consistently and distinctly data-orieneted.  We could also say that all Jungianisms are extremely subjective and don't care much for being, or have much aptitude to be, objective.  There is no Jungian push for objectivity.  In fact, there are numerous assaults on it (as in Wolfgang Giegerich's approach).

What I see is a Jungian failure to imagine a useful objectivity and science.  Subjectivity is celebrated and defended/fortified . . . or just taken for granted.  Jungianism is different than any other credible form of psychology in this assumption (including psychoanalysis, which strives to be objective, even if its objectivity might be considered spurious).

The problems with this assumption and prejudice are many, and I don't mean to go into them all here (again).  One of these I will reiterate, though, is that, without a valuation of objectivity, there is no position from which to functionally evaluate and scrutinize one's subjectivity.  In other words, where objectivity is not valued, belief is as good as knowledge (as knowledge is considered impossible).  But that inevitably leads to a theory without an ethic, without a good enough reason to be valid.  It is no better than a fantasy (as far as being a tool for verification).

It is this failure of imagination (a failure not only often unrecognized, but actually at times taken as a point of pride) that differentiates Jung from the Jungians.  And it is this issue that allows us to recognize and begin to investigate the "lack" and wound in Jungianism, the missing "soul" and "subtle body" of the Jungian project that has seemingly not been passed on from Jung to his successors.

It seems like such a minor thing, but I feel it is a germ of massive, systemic issues.  And despite its apparent smallness, it cannot merely be plucked out like a thorn.  It is in the Jungian DNA now, inextricable.  The system itself must evolve, must be mutated in order to allow this disease to be restructured into something functional.

Jung questioned (fairly casually) psychology's lack of an "Archimedean point" (for the psychological observer) outside psyche/subjectivity.  Without a well defined Archimedean point, perfect scientific objectivity in psychology would not be possible.  But the construction of this "perfect scientific objectivity" needs to have its historical narrative outlined a bit.

The idea can be traced to two main sources.  The first would be a formulation of post-Enlightenment, 19th century scientific exuberance and hubris that placed "science" and "reason" on pedestals and used them to bludgeon dissenters.  This was not science, per se, but scientism that usurped the name and credibility of science.

Nowhere has this hubristic scientism been more pervasive and persistent than in modern medicine.  Jung, especially post break-up with Freud, was a strong critic and opponent of this form of scientism.  But his opposition had two major weaknesses.  First, there was no concept of "scientism" at the time Jung formulated his criticisms.  At least not one that reached Jung.  The efforts of the philosophers of science to understand how science really works (how it develops and tests truth claims) came either late in or after Jung's life.  As I will go on to explain, Jung cold be seen as one of the (unrecognized and parallel) forerunners of later philosophies of science like Thomas Kuhn's.  But for Jung, Science and Reason were still like idolized gods with dangerous powers.  Jung's critique of science and rationalism does not therefore carry over into modern dialogs intact.  Today, "grand narratives" of "Science" do not exist in the way they did in the 19th century (at least not for actual scientists).  Sciences have shed much of their old religious ideologies, and they have done this in the name of a scientific method that is self-correcting and oriented to addressing its own errors.  That Jungianism often carries on as if sciences were still ideological Science/scientism is anachronistic and effectively removes it from any progressive dialogs on the topic.

Often, Jungian critiques of "Science" are even more simplistic than Jung's, as if they developed in a vacuum where the other of Science was only a fantasy and projection of the shadow.  Jung actually witness and lived with (and as a part of) the kind of Science he opposed.

Jung's opposition to science and rationalism is also weakened by the conventionality of his critical position.  It was not in any way original or unique, but a product of the volkisch German romanticism of his era.  The same kinds of suspicions of science and rationality that Jung inherited from his peers and intellectual forebears were applied in Nazi ideologies, rationalizations, and self-justifications.  They are not innocuous.  They are not "inspired truths".  Jung went through his entire life without significant self-consciousness about the limitations of this volkisch romanticism.  It was a part of his socialized identity that he was seemingly not able to analyze or recognize as partly arbitrary.  It was his "persona equation".

This volkisch romanticism weakens Jung's critiques of science because it was not intellectual, philosophical or, of course, scientific.  It was a matter of tribal identity politics, of differentiating an Us and a Them.  Much of Jung's critiques of science and reason and rationality and materialism was an assertion of collective selfhood or affiliation.  It was not fully "conscious", but tainted by prejudices that defended and fortified a particular group's identity constructions.  It was, to use Jung's favored term (from Levy-Bruhl) "participation mystique".

That means that it would need to be deconstructed.  We would need to determine how much of this volkisch romantic critique of reason and modernity was arbitrary identity politics and differentiation of group selfhood and how much was legitimate analysis of science.  As the rise and reign of Nazism demonstrated, anti-modernism, modern monotribalism, anti-science, anti-rationality, etc. can be terribly dangerous and wholly illegitimate as intellectual positions.

Despite these limitations, Jung's critique of science had, I think, some viable intellectual (and therefore scientific) foundations.  But it was plagued by an attraction to and dependence on scapegoats (the Jews being a primary one, especially during the 1930s . . . emblemized for Jung especially by Freud and psychoanalysis).  The use of scapegoats allowed Jung and Jungianism to enter into a deluded fantasy of heroic battle against a foe.  This Jungian "hero" means to liberate and promote his chosen people and smite the dragons (and others) who would impede the expansion and self-promotion of these chosen people.  This, of course, was also the perspective of Hitler.  The idea of entitlement to "purity".

Even as Jungianism has engaged in criticisms of Jung's and early Jungian anti-Semitism and Nazi-collaboration, it still remains largely an expression of this monotribalist, Hitlerian fantasy of purifying and unifying the world (with the chosen race/tribe on top). Jungians, of course, don't advocate genocide or any kind of violence.  Instead, they just fantasize about the "unus mundus" (one world) and the "anima mundi" that unites this world and renders it meaningful (i.e., pure).  As Jungians have no power and influence in the modern world, they are not in danger of harming others.  But if we look more closely at the typical Jungian characterizations of "science", rationalism, materialism, and those who supposedly "worship" these foreign gods, we can see that these others are not treated with any more respect or humanity than the Nazi's afforded the Jews and other "degenerates".

This is a fairly brutal analogy, and I use it to make a point.  I use it as a clarion call for Jungians to look more closely at their romantic, monotribalist, anti-modernist prejudices.


To back up a bit, the second place we can locate the idea of a "perfectly objective science" is in academic postmodernist critiques of science as modernist grand narrative.  In many ways, this is just another expression of the kind of anti-modern romanticism that Jung's volkisch influence expressed.  It is extremely monotribal, very Us vs. Them oriented.

It's a critique that comes out of literary criticism and the liberal arts most of all.  As a philosophy of science it depends less on argument and logic than on group consensus.  That is, it remain viable only when enough people are willing to believe and espouse it, and when those people will write for and read one another's "professional" publications.  It requires a kind of elite monotribe to sustain it.  It has no real applicability outside of this academic ivory tower community.  It has no significant impact on real science.

This is not to say it is utterly devoid of useful criticisms.  Many of the criticisms academic postmodernism brings to science and other modern institutions are (at least when boiled down to their basic arguments) quite apt.  They are also largely common sense critiques despite being couched in radical linguistic formulas and overcomplicated abstractions.  But what makes these critiques potent is not their logic, it's their ferocity and totalitarianism.  It's a ferocity that breeds rallying indoctrination.  It can be an "acting out" of rage against "the machine" of modernity and a retreat into monotribal (and therefore anti-modern) identity.

Also, although many members of the academic postmodern tribe continue to fire rockets toward the land of "Science", this demonic kingdom hardly exists anymore . . . except in the scapegoat fantasy of the academic postmodernists.  Real science has mostly learned all of the common sense lessons of the postmodernist argument, incorporated this knowledge, and moved on.  And it managed this by learning not from the postmodernists but from more moderate critics and philosophers of science.  It also simply learned from experience and from experiments that helped refine best practices in science.  Science learned the functional lessons postmodernism continues to preach at it by looking at the data.  Dedicated observation of these data is self-correcting for the scientific method.  As long as the data are valued and carefully observed, science doesn't move closer and closer toward its own corrupt fantasy narrative (that strikes me as an academic postmodernist projection par excellence).  It moves closer to the "truth" of the other/object.

We need to recognize that the idea of "perfectly objective science" simply doesn't exist in modern science . . . or where it does, it contradicts the real momentum of modern scientific method.  Science is a tool.  What corrupts science (as a verifier) is not science, but the unscientific attitudes and idea we bring to it.  Human greed and pride and bias can harm the validity of scientific verification/falsification.  It is the human hand and mind that repurposes the tool as a weapon.  Science itself has no mind.


That is my relatively brief jog into the background of "objectivity", which I feel is necessary as we move on to investigate why Jungians have failed to imagine a functional psychological objectivity and thereby lost the golden thread from Jung.  My feeling is that the Jungian project is founded upon and cannot function without an objective and essentially empirical approach to psychic phenomena.  It is not "spiritualism" or "soulfulness" or intuition or faith of any kind that makes the Jungian project special and sustainable, it's the particular model of objectivity.


Jung's Model of Objectivity

Jung strove, imperfectly but significantly, to view the psyche objectively.  The objectivity and empiricism Jung claimed to practice cannot be very well understood in contemporary contexts . . . or even outside of psychoanalytic ones.  Jung's "empiricism" was notable and meaningful only in contrast to Freud's approach to psychic phenomena as data.

As Jungians are fond of saying, Freud's theories were very reductive.  Superficially, they seemed (or claimed) to be based on rationalistic and scientific principles, but just because Freud spoke of instincts and drives for sex and aggression does not (it is easy to see today, where these constructions are no longer granted much credibility) make Freud's constructions scientific.  Freud notoriously used a very strict model of psychic structure and behavior to interpret a vast and variable amount of phenomena.  One example among many: the theory (assumption, really) that dream content is composed of sexual and infantile drives too disturbing for the ego and must therefore be disguised by a repressive psychic mechanism.  And so every dream hat is a disguised penis.

I can't recall Freud's exact data on which this theory was based.  Maybe there were a few dreams that seemed to suggest this kind of disguise, and this led him astray.  In my experience of dream work and reading about dreams, I have never noticed anything like a mechanism of disguise.  It is much more reasonable to see the density of dream symbols as indicative of multiple meaning clusters.  They are economical representations of complexes of related, often emotionally charged, memory quanta.  Observation of the data bears this out (i.e., dream contents are not disguised).  It is not that symbolic penises or vaginas are impossible in dreams, but where these appear, there is something more going on than simply penises or vaginas.  Jung's childhood dream of the "underground phallus" is a useful example.

As Jung split form Freud, he became something of a crusader against Freudian psychoanalysis.  That crusade was so powerful for Jung that it carried him at least through the 1930s with great hostility toward Freud and psychoanalysis, even encouraging him to collaborate with and echo Nazi psychological propaganda.  Analytical psychology needs to be understood as significantly (but perhaps not entirely) an "anti-Freudianism".  It is a reply to, compensation for, and critique of psychoanalysis . . . for better and for worse.

Where we investigate Jung's model of observation, we need to see Jung's approach as a reaction to and attempted compensation of Freud's.  Where Freud was very theory-centric and used data very secondarily and conformingly, Jung was extremely skeptical and standoffish about theories and preferred to allow the data to guide interpretation.  This meant, for Jung, a much greater devotion to objectifying these data, to allowing them to be what they presented themselves as and not to become a brick in the wall of a theory.  As this approach was largely reactive to Freud's, Jung seemed to manage it fairly well, but he did not absolutely break from Freud's interpretive models.  He recognized Freud's approach as extremely (excessively) Freud-centric.  That is, Jung saw Freud shaping his theories about psychology based far too much on Freud's own personal psychology.  Jung felt these generalizations from Freud's person were not widely applicable.  In the 1930s, Jung took this too far and wrote that "Jewish psychology" should not be applied to non-Jews (i.e., German gentiles).  This seems to have been a powerfully affect-drenched reaction to Freud's error.  Fundamentally, Jung had a good point: not every person has the same complexes, defenses, and neuroses . . . and some of these complexes, defenses, and neuroses can be part of a group identity construction, inherited through a sense of identification and participation with that group.  Unfortunately, Jung capitalized on Nazi power and propaganda that was used to subjugate and persecute the Jews in Germany when he made such statements.  Jung, its seems, sought revenge against Freud and the Freudians, and he wasn't above using perverse Nazi power and influence to wage his own private war against psychoanalysis.

But underlying Jung's differentiation of "Jewish psychology" in the 30s is an astute awareness of the variable, often arbitrary social construction of personality (and many of its diseases).  There is not one psychological complex or disease for all of humanity.  Complexes are situational and variable.  Moreover, theorists and philosophers, too, were subject to personal contextualizations and complexes that dictated their worldviews.  Jung used the term "personal equation" for this inescapable tendency in human thought to be shaped not by "rationality" alone, but (significantly) by personal habits, assumptions, beliefs, attitudes, and identity constructions.  Freud, Jung would have diagnosed, failed to adequately recognize his own personal equation, and therefore projected his own psychology (which he analyzed quite deftly) onto everyone.

Jung accepted, at least superficially, that he too was subject to a personal equation, which shaped much of his own approach to psychological observation and interpretation.  Jung seemed to recognize how his personal equation drew him to certain phenomena, but he did not dwell on (or really even address) how it also blinded him in other ways.  The personal equation theory is important to Jungian thought, but it is not adequately developed.  It becomes quite clear that the various weaknesses in Jung's theories and interpretations could be traced back to his personal equation.  The incidents of collaboration with Nazi psychological propaganda in the 30s mentioned above is a case in point.  Could Jung really have written about "Jewish psychology" in a way that seemed to echo and support Hitler if he did not have unanalyzed, largely unconscious prejudices against Jews (and especially centered around Freud)?

Ideally, though, the personal equation theory belongs with the observational and empirical approach Jung argued for.  As noted above, scientific observation of psychic phenomena (especially one's own psychic phenomena) is notoriously difficult due to the problem of a very shaky Archimedean point . . . i.e., because the observational mechanism used to observe the object (psyche) is part of that object, and therefore extremely biased and often incapable of detecting self-deceptions.

Jung, though, did not reject psychological objectivity as an ideal and necessary approach to psychology (as Giegerich seems to).  What is Jung's solution to the no Archimedean point problem of psychology?  The introduction of the personal equation.  And what scientific mechanism might this personal equation (specifically, the dedicated awareness of it) represent to psychology?  The concept of "margin of error".  The personal equation as a margin of error in observation is attached to the attempt to objectively observe psychic phenomena.  With some phenomena a given individual's margin of observational error is more or less than with others.  And those places one suffers from the largest margins of error are where the phenomena that most closely touch on unconscious and compulsive complexes reside.

Freud, of course, abused this concept of personal equation as margin of error tremendously.  Instead of recognizing his own susceptibility to his complexes and their tendency to distort his perception on particular issues, he developed what is in many ways a theory of psychology based entirely on these most personal complexes.  His theory grew from where he was most blind.  Jung recognizes this and takes offense (especially when Freud projects this onto Jung . . . and all the more so because it happened to fit, perhaps turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy of the Son that "murders" the Father).  Jung's analysis of Freud (as devouring Father) was just as astute as Freud's analysis of Jung (as patricidal Son).  Both men's interpretations of their relationship are reasonable, especially given their respective personal equations.

Regrettably, Jung did a much better job at recognizing Freud's personal equation than he did at recognizing and "factoring out" his own.  I suspect Jung did factor his personal equation as a margin of error at times in his interpretations of data, but he did not really expose this process in his writing or demonstrate how it could be done.  In fact, much of the time, it seems as though he really didn't bother to factor out his personal equation.  Unlike Freud, Jung acknowledged that he had and was subject to one, but he didn't really deal with it analytically.  Instead, Jung drew on his theory of the shadow (which had the opportunity to work as the foundation of a "Jungian ethics") to seemingly excuse his personal equation.  In effect, Jung said, "Well yes, I have a shadow.  It affects and distorts my perception.  But everyone has a shadow.  We must have a shadow.  Now that that's out of the way, let's move on."

That is, Jung often used an acknowledgement that he had a shadow as an excuse not to really aggressively deal with/confront that shadow.  He did not use that shadow as a margin of error in his theorization and observation.  He essentially left it for us to apply this margin of error to his observations of psychic phenomena (as he himself had to to Freud's observations and theories).  That was probably extremely irresponsible on many levels . . . and it seems all the more so when we recognize that other Jungians were not successfully applying this margin of error (not at least until the last couple decades) to Jung's ideas.  And how could they?  They had a shadowless vision of Jung.  Jung was a myth, a godman, an individuated transcendent "master" and "genius".

Today, the tables have turned.  Jung has come to seem far less than divine to many contemporary Jungians.  But Jungians are still caught up in their Jungian identity complexes.  Instead of being able to accurately apply a margin of error to Jung's thought based on his personal equation, Jungians react very emotionally to Jung's "betrayal" as disappointing Father and have come to often use Jung's personal equation (and shadow) as a bludgeon to smash his theories and observations.  Neither extreme is scientifically functional.  That is, neither manner of application of the personal equation as margin of error leads to more accurate and objective observations.

Jung was, in this legacy, a "bad father" to Jungians.  He did not functionally model the personal equation as margin of observational and theoretical error.  But he did leave this fairly sound theory to us to use . . . and when applied with ethical consciousness, it works pretty well.  It does not make psychological observations "highly accurate", but it manages to put up numerous red flags (where margin of error might be greatest) that can allow observers to devise more stringent tests or look more carefully at decisive data sets.  It can work like a series of road signs that help a psychological observer weave her or his way through a maze of possibilities and complexities.  It also allows this observer to hold off on theory-making and to be more aware of the arbitrariness of assumptions and the contexts in which they are formed.


Although the effective use of the personal equation idea in Jungian thought is still significantly unrealized and in need of reform and revitalization, another observational approach Jung took that was quite functional (and now, quite neglected) was the valuation of the object.  In the passion for subjectivity that now drives Jungian thought, the very idea of the object (the psyche or psychic phenomena) is devalued and often discarded.  There is no valid "object" in Jungian thought today . . . there is only subject.  Subject is not anything like a margin of error that cloaks and distorts an object for contemporary Jungians.  As a result the exploration of subjectivity is a kind of arbitrary, creative exploration . . . something like a linguistic art form.  "Truth" of this subject is seen as being an element of its expression.  It is brought into being subjectively and exists only as its final product (the expression).  It is ex nihilo.  This continues to grant (albeit unintentionally) a kind of "divine" status to the Jungian that embraces this religion of subjectivity.  One is (as HIllman called it) "soul-making".  Jungians engage in soul-making rather than soul-investigating . . . or, it should be recognized, soul-relating.

The underlying problem with the subjectivizing of psychology is that this leads to the loss of the psychic Other.  The Jungian psychologist no longer seeks or finds a way to relate with that Other.  There is no relational ethic, no respect and honoring of the Other.  The Other only exists for many contemporary Jungians as a part of subjectivity, a part of ego and its beliefs, attitudes, and identity constructions.  There is still a sense among Jungians that they are looking back into something deeper and more ancient (a kind of "collective unconscious" or world soul), but this is merely lip service paid to the Jungian identity totems.  The actual experience of Jungianism is extremely subjective and lacking a developed relational ethic to an Other.  The Other of Jungian fantasy is mostly a reflection of the Jungian identity constructions, of the ideal ego.  What matters most about that totemic Other is that it tells the Jungian who s/he is.  By taking up a certain worshipful, awe-inspired attitude toward the tribal identity totem, the Jungian identifies as a Jungian and feels confirmed in this identification.

Jung is distinct among Jungians for the extensive objectification he afforded autonomous psychic contents and the psyche as Other.  That in itself is a stance of valuation of the psychic Other that is all too often lacking in contemporary Jungianism.  And it is the core of a viable Jungian project.  But even in Jung, this was a complex and problematic kind of relationship.  Jung did not exclusively take an ethical, self-sacrificing relationship to the psychic Other and autonomous psychic phenomena.  He had to build the model of that relationship as a problematized one.

There was a profoundly ethical aspect of this relationship for Jung that is lacking from today's Jungianisms.  But Jung's ethics was flawed.  He was determined (and I would consider this an ethical position) to see the psychic Other as other, as "object" that was not-I.  Therefore, this Other-object had to be related to . . . it could not be determined or "made".  This, I feel, is tremendously important and absolutely essential to a viable Jungianism.  It is also more genuinely "scientific" and interested in accurately understanding the Other-object.  But Jung also projected many prejudices on this Other that he did not manage to factor out as the margins of error due to a personal equation.

His characterizations of the autonomous otherness of the psyche are heavily tinged with the kind of "othering" that we see in all prejudices and shadow projections.  He portrayed the "unconscious" as a volatile, often chaotic "superpower" that made an aggressive claim on "consciousness" and would threaten to devour, seduce, or undermine that consciousness.  Jung proposed that this required some specific "care and feeding" of the "unconscious"/Other.  But it equally required the construction of an extremely strong ego that could stand its ground against the demands and desires of the "unconscious".  The ego, in effect, had to become its own "superpower" to engage in a cold war struggle with the "unconscious".  This meant that the psychic Other would always be a fairly poorly seen other.  The Jungian ego was greatly concerned with holding back that Other, with maintaining a "tension of opposites" that allowed some of the "trade" between consciousness and the "unconscious" to occur under very careful scrutiny.

The psychic other remains a fairly demonic and untrustworthy "partner" in this cold war for psychic health (i.e., ego determined health).  And this, I feel, is entirely unnecessary.  It is only the product of Jung's unresolved complexes and prejudicial projections.  It does not make for a sufficiently accurate representation of the Self-as-Other or the autonomous psyche.  BUT . . . it must be said that this approach does manage to keep the association between the ego and the autonomous psyche relational.  It involves a kind of mutual respect, even as it is riddled with prejudices.  And it is precisely this prejudiced but oddly respectful relationship we see in all of Jung's constructions of others.  He is a bit of a walking contradiction on these relationships with others/Others.

With his constructions of the anima, for instance, he has depicted something powerful and autonomous that is a fertile repository and resource for psychic energy (that the ego can utilize) and even some insight (into egoic constructions), yet at the same time, this anima is untrustworthy, seductive, devouring, and volatile.  He theorizes an archetype with a positive and a negative pole.  It can shift along this axis, but it can never become one pole at the expense of the other.  And therefore even when it seems positive, it should always be mistrusted and treated with skepticism and reservation.  Jung treats the anima as a kind of natural resource that needs to be conquered and transformed for the ego's "civilized" purposes.  It shouldn't be rejected or squandered, but it needs to be adapted to the ego's needs.  It is not therefore valuable as a wholly autonomous Other.  It must be "colonized".

And yet, there is this lingering sense (not clearly articulated by Jung, but definitely implied) that the anima also "colonizes" the ego . . . as any conquered culture might end up seeping into the conquering culture even in very profound ways.  There is a part of Jung that accepts and even embraces this "reverse colonization" from psychic Others, but his "official position" remains solidly colonial.  As I have said before, Jung was the kind of man who would decry promiscuity and infidelity in public while indulging it personally in private.  He is a bit of a hypocrite and a prude/conservative, but he at least has some degree of personal access to vital otherness.

It is a perverted situation for Jungian psychology, but I feel Jung's hypocritical stance on Otherness is still far superior to and healthier than the contemporary Jungian attitude toward the Other which is non-relational and not so much "colonial" as "genocidal" (i.e., it seeks to destroy the Other and convert it into a token to hang on its office wall).  Jung's relationship with the other was complexed and distorted, but it was a relationship, and it did allow the Other some autonomy.  It was, therefore, valuative in ways.  But Jungianism treats Jung's complexed colonialism as its inherited birthright.  Jung went out and colonized the "unconscious" so that Jungianism can now possess it entirely.  What was objective for Jung is now subjective for Jungianism . . . and this is a terrible loss.

It would be much healthier for Jungianism to move more decidedly and consciously in the direction Jung leaned (often in spite of himself).  Jungianism should seek to remedy Jung's prejudices and repair his complexed relationships with Others.  But that requires an ethic that is both scientifically and relationally sound, and no such ethic has developed in Jungianism.

Concealed (for Jungians, at least) behind a simple scientific objectivism is a deeply affective ethic of relationship and construction of otherness.  Objectification that is ethically guided (i.e., valuative) is not an "evil".  It is essential to relationship and to the valuated construction of the other.  It is better to objectify with some (albeit impaired) accuracy than it is to subjectify.  Of course, it is best to objectify ethically (and without excess intrusion of the personal equation and shadow projections), to grant others objective autonomy and the equal right to be.  That goal is viable where Jungian models of observation and ethics (understanding of the mechanism of shadow projection) are improved and refined.  The foundation for doing this exists in Jung's thought . . . even if the model he presented with his own behavior was quite flawed and not functionally imitable.

The pathway to repair and revitalization of this observational objective model can likely only come from a deeper and fairer analysis of Jung's own approach and personal equation.  Secondarily, the way Jung's personal equations and complexes have been inherited by Jungians will need to be analyzed.  The Jungian personal equation will have to be factored as a margin of error.  But that important step will only be useful if Jungians can begin objectively observing psychic phenomena again (and not merely assuming and making it out of their subjectivity).  Jungianism suffers from a disease that shrouds and represses its Otherness, its autonomous Self.  The Jungian shadow stands between Jungian identity and its Self-as-Other.  As long as the shadow work remains repellent to Jungianism, it will experience its lack and lostness ("loss of soul").

This is especially ironic, since Jungianism has conventionally championed the value of "shadow work".  But perhaps its inheritance of Jung's "hypocrite gene" complicates this.  These things are not really that hard to see (for those outside Jungianism).  Jungianism has a problem with awareness of its own personal equation and has found increasingly ingenious ways to flee and distance itself from that personal equation.  Jung himself is now being used as the scapegoat to facilitate this retreat and repression.  The sacrifice of Jung may serve as the ultimate denial and dissociation of Jungian identity . . . the point at which Jungianism will rapidly decline and cease to exist.  It is Jungianism's eleventh hour, and Jung-the-man is the ticking bomb it needs to defuse.  Many Jungians are just trying to figure out how to get out of the building alive.  But not everyone will make it . . . and the whole building will also be lost if the bomb blows.  Some Jungians have to make a devoted effort to address the bomb directly . . . to think communally and not only selfishly.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 08:57:20 AM by Matt Koeske »
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Matswin

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Re: Jung as Observer vs. Jung as Theorist
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2013, 02:30:32 AM »
Your articles would benefit from an abstract and a conclusion, which summarizes your views.
/Mats

Matt Koeske

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Re: Jung as Observer vs. Jung as Theorist
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2013, 08:36:32 AM »
Your articles would benefit from an abstract and a conclusion, which summarizes your views.
/Mats

That's a good suggestion, Mats.  I guess I wasn't even thinking of it as an article, so the idea never occurred to me.  That is, I'm just trying to get some thoughts down on "paper".  I don't see them as organized into a thesis . . . but they tend to eventually shape themselves into a kind of thesis . . . a fairly disorganized thesis. 

I'll try to work on abstracts going forward.  Conclusions, I think are usually there (just not demarcated by a "Conclusion" heading).  I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the conventional "conclusion" sections of many scholarly articles.  I find them almost universally disappointing and often either redundant or extraneous.  After a mass of some very complex and far ranging ideas, I can see value in a "summing up" and boiling down, but most of the (at least Jungian) articles I've read structured like this don't make this kind of use of the conclusion section.

I'll see what I can do, though.

Thanks,
Matt
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Matt Koeske

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Re: Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2013, 08:59:38 AM »
Abstract added.
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Matswin

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Re: Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2013, 02:57:06 AM »
Jungian psychology cannot be fitted into the scientific paradigm because science is Aristotelian, whereas Jungian psychology, with its archetypal notion, builds on the Platonic paradigm. Aristotle argued that what we see around us contains both matter and form (hule and eidos). This means that the form is not transcendental to the worldly object, what Plato had argued. Today we know that any living organism's form is programmed into its genes, and in this sense the form exists within its every cell. But this is true also of material particles. An electron is not a little material marble. It is a package with an inbuilt "computer program" with Electronic Natural Laws, which makes the electron react in a particular way when interacting with other particles. When interacting with a certain type of particle, it is programmed to react in a certain way.

So the immaterial factor is inbuilt into the particles. They are little monads that have the rules for interaction within themselves. They "know" how to behave. Hence Aristotle was right in his contention that the objects carry their form within themselves. This defines the scientific paradigm.

But the Platonic notion has today renewed its prominence: substance, which is inert, is transcended by its form. The psyche works according to the Platonic paradigm, and not according to the Aristotelian and scientific paradigm. So the psyche cannot be pinned down by science. It is as simple as that. That's why M-L von Franz said that Jungian psychology isn't really scientific. In fact, she said that it is more akin to Taoism.

What illustrates this finely is that the archetype cannot be pinned down in scientific terms. They grapple with the archetypal notion in Journal of Analytical Psychology and elsewhere, but they cannot make sense of it in scientific terms. Nevertheless, the psyche functions as if there were archetypes (I discuss it here). There is no way around this fact. So the archetype is transcendental, just like Plato had argued. It is transcendental in the same sense as the Kantian categories. Much like the Kantian categories, they are deducible from the empirical facts of reality. However, they cannot be observed, as such. They are not "things". Nor are they "laws" built into into the neural system.

In a similar vein, the notion of projection is central to psychology. The "inert" object of projection derives its "form" from outside. This is a Platonic principle that a scientifically minded person can never quite understand. It is an extremely important factor of reality, and it has been well-known for a century, but the average person (including the average politician) lacks a proper understanding of it. But people do certainly know about the empirical notion and the notion of natural laws.

So we simply have to accept that the world is governed by two paradigms, the Aristotelian and the Platonic, the physical and the transcendental. This does not mean that science has nothing to say about the psyche. Rather, it means that it can only provide a very reductive explanation, which gives us a skewed view of the psyche.

Arguably, the solution to your problem of scientific inadequacy in Jungian psychology is to accept it as belonging to another paradigm, and to try and develop this paradigm, instead of making fruitless attempts to accommodate it to science.

Mats Winther

Matt Koeske

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Re: Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2013, 05:02:56 PM »
The psyche works according to the Platonic paradigm, and not according to the Aristotelian and scientific paradigm. So the psyche cannot be pinned down by science. It is as simple as that. That's why M-L von Franz said that Jungian psychology isn't really scientific.

Mats, I disagree with your reduction here.  It is in no way simple.  Simplifications like this are tempting to intellectuals, but I think it is better to exercise caution around powerfully reductive ideas applied to complex systems (like psyche or brain).  I don't personally recognize your neat Platonic vs. Aristotelian dichotomy as relevant to the investigation of the psyche.  The psyche is not a Chinese puzzle box that just needs the right combination of manipulations to unlock.  It is always complex on every observable level (and probably on many levels below those more readily observable).

As for Jungian psychology not being scientific, I entirely agree.  It isn't scientific, but Jung had various scientific pretensions and intentions . . . and not all of them were absolutely bullshit.  This is kind of what I mean when I say that Jungians have failed to imagine a science that could underlie analytical psychology.  "Science" is continuously whisked away to reduce its threat to Jungian beliefs.  This allows Jungians to maintain neatly reductive assumptions, beliefs, and philosophies that do not really hold up to the data that the observation of psychic phenomena produces.

My argument is that Jung, although not genuinely "scientific" or "empirical", operated like a proto-scientist . . . almost in the way that alchemists operated as "proto-chemists".  Jung is often mistaken (by critics, but also by many Jungians) as a "pseudo-scientist" who made spurious claims to scientific credibility.  That is not an unreasonable interpretation, but I don't think it is quite right.

He did make some spurious scientific statements, no doubt.  But I think most of these are better understood as hypotheses in need of testing.  They seemed reasonable to Jung . . . and I think they were (especially when considering Jung's "personal equation", education, romantic, and Christian orientations).  Wearing the lens that Jung wore, they are entirely reasonable, but often they are founded on flawed assumptions.  For instance, Jung places a great deal of emphasis on Plato and Kant in founding his theory of archetypes.  He strives to connect these Platonic-Kantian assumptions with Darwinian biology, and he observes and interprets psychic phenomena through this make-shift lens.  He does not allow (as modern biologists would) the Platonic-Kantian assumptions to give way in the face of data that do not seem to support them.

This distorts his ability to observe phenomena clearly, but it doesn't utterly destroy his observations.  I believe we can still use Jung's data so long as we filter it through a "corrective lens" that adjusts for his flawed assumptions and personal equation.  Jung was trying to honestly describe something extremely complex and intangible using the knowledge and tools that he had.  My basic argument for Jung's "scientific" value is that his data, though distorted, are not wasted, not absolutely tainted.  They can be salvaged.  But that salvage can only occur with a better understanding of Jung's personal equation and the problems with his assumptions, the problems with his "lens".

Many Jungians have begun to deconstruct Jung's assumptions very functionally.  They have successfully dissected Jung's lens and personal equation, but they haven't figured out how all those parts managed to work together.  They are understanding the parts, but not the emergent system.  It's like taking apart a complex machine in the hope of repairing it.  It's easier to disassemble it and find the broken parts than it is to put it back together.

My "boast" is that I have an idea about how to reassemble the complex machine and get it to do the same task it was designed to do (perhaps even better than before), but some of the parts are not salvageable.  They have to be replaced with new and somewhat different parts.  These new parts are more compatible with modern science.  I would take out all of the "bad science" parts and the parts that oppose and prevent analytical psychology from being compatible with modern science.  Sometimes this streamlines Jungianism (there were superfluous parts), and sometimes it corrects the function of existing parts.

I have not seen any other way to make the Jungian machine run properly again (or for the first time, one could argue).  It needs to make friends with science and enter into the modern age and environment.  If it cannot and will not do that, it can only be consigned to New Age or occult spiritualism.  It cannot be a psychology without befriending or at least playing nice with science.  Without that cooperation, Jungianism can only be a dying cult religion and identity group.

If Jungianism wants to still (or again) investigate the psyche, changes like those I have proposed will be necessary.  But it has its precious things that it doesn't want to sacrifice.  It fears that "submitting" to science will "colonize" it and steal its soul away.  It sees "Science" as a Big Bad.  Jungianism projects its shadow onto science.

But the Jungian soul has already been lost.  It was lost ages ago.  Science cannot steal it, nor would it want to.  Jungianism blames "Science" for its loss of soul, but the Jungian soul was lost because Jungianism had a flawed "mysticism", because it had a dysfunctional mechanism for maintaining soul.  Science and the modern played no part in this.  They are scapegoats.  And Jungianism has for many years now been a cult centered around scapegoating.  Jungian identity is dependent on this scapegoating.  Jungians only know themselves by the thing the call Enemy . . . and so they cling desperately to this Enemy.  It is the only way they know how to preserve selfhood.  But it is, obviously, a sick way.

What illustrates this finely is that the archetype cannot be pinned down in scientific terms. They grapple with the archetypal notion in Journal of Analytical Psychology and elsewhere, but they cannot make sense of it in scientific terms.

You are right that all attempts to "pin down" archetype in scientific terms have been inadequately successful, but this is not really a limitation of a scientific approach per se.  The conceptualization of archetype is simply not scientific.  Jung's (and the attempts at more biological interpretations of archetype by Anthony Stevens and Erik Goodwyn) constructions of archetype sometimes ventured into a relationship with biological science, but Jung never really figured out how to connect this biological underpinning with his phenomenological observations and with his strong emphasis on the numinosity of archetypes, which was more and more compelling and central to him as he aged.

I am not satisfied with the biological angle that Stevens and Goodwyn (and a couple others) take.  It tries to equate evolutionary psychology and Jungian archetype theory.  I do see ways in which archetypes might be said to border on the phenomena that evolutionary psychologists are studying (scientifically), but one of the main problems is that Jungian archetypes are so ill-defined.  They are the product of a collection of a lifetime of "scribbled" notes and various observations Jung made.  The category itself is simply too vague and expansive.  That is why archetypes are not compatible with science.

In other words, it is not that archetypes are "beyond" science in some way.  It's that the phenomena Jung groups under "archetype" are so varied that they cannot be singularly categorized in a way that is scientifically useful.  It would be like an astronomer trying to understand stars, planets, moons, galaxies, black holes, dark matter, etc. as all one phenomena.  That's not a failure of science, but a failure of the particular scientist to organize the data in a way that facilitates scientific study.

When it comes to archetypes, Jungians have the opposite problem of the blind men and the elephant.  Jung (the intuitive and universalist) cries, "Elephant!" after feeling all the parts, but what he really felt was the parts of a number of different species.  Jung is just a singular "elephantine" thinker.  Jungians are not scientifically (or perhaps intellectually) developed enough to rethink these assumptions.  They are chips off the old block, habitual "intuitive types" that see big patterns and miss the parts and how those parts fit together.

Nevertheless, the psyche functions as if there were archetypes (I discuss it here). There is no way around this fact. So the archetype is transcendental, just like Plato had argued. It is transcendental in the same sense as the Kantian categories. Much like the Kantian categories, they are deducible from the empirical facts of reality. However, they cannot be observed, as such. They are not "things". Nor are they "laws" built into into the neural system.

The psyche/brain symbolizes and associates and places value on associations in a quantitative way . . . like the strength of a bond.  But I'm not sure I would agree that it "behaves as if there were archetypes".  I'm not really sure what that would mean (since I don't recognize archetype as something well-enough defined).

I would argue that the only kind of "archetypes" we can know with reasonable certainty are the motifs we see across dreams, myths, folktales, art, and religion.  What causes these motifs is a matter of complex debate.  My feeling is that each motif needs to be analyzed separately, at least at first.  They are not all "of a type".  Some of them do seem to have biological aspects and/or evolutionary adaptedness (e.g., the animi as idealized partners/spouses).  But this appearance could be entirely coincidental.

Most of the debate in Jungianism about the nature of archetypes breaks down into a more nativist position vs. a more developmentalist position.  There are some "mystical" takes, but these are generally not getting to the "head table" of the discussion.  What is not being adequately considered is what I would call a complex systems approach to understanding archetypes.  That is, that the motifs represented in "archetypal images" are not so much derived from early childhood development and "imprinting" nor from inherent "forms" or dispositions, but from the logic and dynamics of complex systems in the process of self-organizing.

The only Jungian proponent of this perspective (other than myself) I have come across is Maxson McDowell.

  • McDowell, M. J. (2001), "Principle of organization: a dynamic-systems view of the archetype-as-such". Journal of Analytical Psychology, 46: 637–654.
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Since this article in the JAP in 2001, no real expansion or evaluation of this idea has followed.  Although, in private/IAJS conversations with Erik Goodwyn I've had, he seemed open to it and does include some complex systems theory with his cognitive science/ep approach to archetypes.

The transcendentalism and other philosophical interpretations you bring in just seem superfluous to me.  They are too abstract, too neat.  They don't address the disparate data ("archetypal" psychic phenomena and motifs) adequately for my taste.  In my own attempts to examine particular archetypes (primarily hero, animi, shadow, Self, and Demon), I have been struck by the complex dynamic patterns of self-organizing systems.  In particular, a complex dynamic system undergoing a "state change" and reorganizing itself.  The "structure" of this narrative of reorganization is defined by the typical behavior of complex dynamic systems.  Our symbolizing, mentalizing, anthropomorphizing brains interpret this reorganization as a narrative theater of personalities or agents following a typical "plot" of conflicts and relationships and the ultimate resolution of those conflicts.  I.e., narrative as state change.

The personages (often categorized as archetypes) in this play can be understood (also) as features of complex dynamic systems.  They are "attractors" or attractor points, perhaps (Erik Goodwyn first suggested that term to me, and it seems like a good one).  An attractor in a complex dynamic system is a feature of systemic organization.  It is not a literal thing that attracts substance or action to it, but a trend that emerges, often with some degree of predictability, when certain agents or forces are coordinating in the complex dynamic system.

When you argue:
Quote
Much like the Kantian categories, they are deducible from the empirical facts of reality. However, they cannot be observed, as such. They are not "things". Nor are they "laws" built into into the neural system.

I think you are observing the same phenomena.  And I would even agree with you that they are not "laws built into the neural system."  I see them as "laws" built into complex dynamic systems, not into the brain, per se (although the brain is an expression of such a system).  But I don't like the philosophical languaging of this phenomenon.  That takes away the "otherness" and objectivity of the phenomenon, makes it fit neatly into a reductive idea.  But we are talking about complexity here, I think.  It cannot be accurately reduced to accommodate the reductiveness of human ideas.

Even as you deny the "thingness" of the phenomena, your language effectively "things" it, makes it into a concept that you can move around intellectually like a material thing.  It may be just a difference in taste, but the philosophical language feels like a displacement to me, like trying to understand a fox by looking at a stuffed fox instead of observing the fox in the wild (unobtrusively).

Granted, I am biased against philosophical abstractions, so my assessment may not be entirely fair.  Still, I am not convinced.


In a similar vein, the notion of projection is central to psychology. The "inert" object of projection derives its "form" from outside. This is a Platonic principle that a scientifically minded person can never quite understand. It is an extremely important factor of reality, and it has been well-known for a century, but the average person (including the average politician) lacks a proper understanding of it. But people do certainly know about the empirical notion and the notion of natural laws.

I don't understand why a "scientifically minded" person can't understand projection.  The "scientific" understanding would take "projection" as a metaphor.  Obviously, no ghostly piece of mind is being physically projected into another.  In projection, we are reacting to an other that represents for us a part of ourselves that we have somehow compartmentalized and do not want to accept/confront in ourselves.  In all relationships, we are dealing with representations and constructions not with the material other.  We all conventionally construct others as suits us,  It takes a concerted ethical effort to try to make our constructions of others more accurate, to allow those others to be autonomous from our constructions and expectations.

Because these constructions and projections are housed in personal thought (sometimes unconscious personal thought), they cannot be scientifically verified in all of their details.  But science would say that there is no reason to assume that "animistic" projection actually inhabits an object-other with some aspect of one's selfhood.  It is one of the mind's signature confabulations and misperceptions.


So we simply have to accept that the world is governed by two paradigms, the Aristotelian and the Platonic, the physical and the transcendental. This does not mean that science has nothing to say about the psyche. Rather, it means that it can only provide a very reductive explanation, which gives us a skewed view of the psyche.

Just too neat.  I find it to be philosophy (or religion, or ideology, etc.) that is excessively reductive.  Materialism (not the only expression of science) is not truly "reductive" in the way philosophy is.  That is, it doesn't boil reality down to a neatly ordered arrangement.  Rather, it complexifies reality as we naturally (reductively and selectively) perceive it.  It demonstrates (better than anything else) how many different "incompatible" yet interacting realities there are.  It shows that reality is wherever we look, even as we shift our focus. And this reminds us that alternate realities are just as real as the ones we fix on.

Simplistic (19th century) materialism is dead.  The age of complexity is here.  That means that a complex thing, an emergence on a high level (the level humans interact consciously on) is not equivalent to or "only" its smallest parts.  On various levels, the same "thing" is different things.

I recently heard Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Cooked) remark that our conventional concept of what is human (or that we ARE human) is fundamentally wrong because we are 90% microbes and could not function without many of them.  I haven't read his new book yet or looked at the data he's using to know how that percentage is calculated.  But even if we are only "10% microbes" that would still make for a fascinating redefinition of humanness.

Because of the acceptance of complexity into science (which has been most open of all kinds of thought to the introduction of a complex view of nature and the universe), these kinds of new perspectives and the challenges of old ones are possible.  Religion and philosophy don't make these kinds of revisions possible.  They are not inherently data-oriented.  They are paradigm oriented . . . and paradigms don't have a direct relationship to objective reality.  Paradigms (as they are handed down) have much more to do with sociality and identity in groups.  Individual paradigms function as personal lenses or "personal equations".  They don't necessarily make sense of phenomena for everyone, they allow those phenomena to coexist with the individual thinker's identity.  I see the world the way I am able to live in it.  I make it inhabitable for me . . . and where I struggle to do this, I suffer and experience anxiety.

Science (the ideally exercised scientific method) is the only tool that seeks to test these personal paradigms outside the individual by attempting to falsify assumptions and hypotheses through the devoted consideration of data (that may contradict our chosen paradigms).  Science doesn't threaten to rip the "soul" out of things (or ideas), it threatens to rip the comforting delusions out of our paradigms.  Science threatens to deprive us of the possession and domination and determination of "soul".  But it doesn't "destroy" this "soul".  Rather, it enables us to relate to it in different ways.  These ways may be less self-serving and inflating, but they are by no means less "soulful".

Science doesn't destroy otherness, it implants us deeper and deeper into a richly-othered world.  It unveils otherness.  It might repeal some of our projected egoism, but science doesn't leave us more alone.  It allows us to be more related, where relationship requires others and otherness.


Arguably, the solution to your problem of scientific inadequacy in Jungian psychology is to accept it as belonging to another paradigm, and to try and develop this paradigm, instead of making fruitless attempts to accommodate it to science.

Here, you may very well be right (about what I should do) . . . although I would argue that the only reason it might be fruitless to accommodate Jungianism to science is that Jungianism may be hopelessly "diseased" and too dissociated and inflated to go near the acidic volatility of science, which could hold up a dangerous mirror to this disease.  Jungianism defends itself against science, and this is not merely out of habit.  It's because science has devices that could dissolve Jungian delusions.  The Jungian defense against science is deeply self-protective.

For Jungianism to allow itself to be "injected" with science would be for Jungianism to surrender to a death and rebirth experience.  Science is Aqua Regia to the Jungian Gold.  It is Mercury.  Where Jungianism identifies with its "common gold" instead of with its potential "Philosophical Gold", Mercurial science is the devouring Green Lion.

And Jungianism, despite the way it plays, is not truly an "alchemical enterprise".  It does not have a real sense of valuation for the scope of an alchemical project.  It knows the acid is death, not that death is the first stage of life (alchemically speaking).

Science for Jungianism is the enshadowed anima.  Jungianism is hostile toward this anima . . . but once in a while, if it can get away with it, it will indulge in a back alley shag.  Then, it will emerge from that dark alley, step onto a public podium and passionately decry "infidelities".  It can accept science on occasion as a prostitute, but not as a lover.

But yes, it might be fruitless.  That is probably why its up to some anonymous, cranky schmo on the internet to voice these indecencies.  It's not going to come from within the Jungian establishment.  The fact that I am saying what I am saying about Jungianism is a very bad sign.  It means the Jungian shadow is well outside the kingdom.  And as a result, the kingdom walls have to be built higher and higher each year.

And it's not just shadow out here in the wilderness.  What the Jungians in the kingdom don't see or understand is that I am the Jungians "soul".  You are the Jungian soul.  The cranks and wackos and the Jungian patients who "could not be saved" are the Jungian "soul". The Jungian soul is out in the outskirts.  It's in what Jungianism has pushed away or failed to allow in.  It's in what Jungianism has failed to respond to and failed to serve.  And the Jungian kingdom is shrinking, becoming more elite and also more frail ("inbreeding", perhaps), while the wilderness around it is growing, encroaching inward.

Poetics aside, I am not championing science as some kind of Jungian savior.  What I am really most concerned with is ethics.  Science is not a good in itself.  There is no tribe of "Science" that I think Jungians should petition for membership.  Science is a set of tools, and I think Jungianism could use some of these to save itself and better itself.

But I accept that the heart of Jungianism is still the experience and valuation of the autonomous psyche.  THAT is the Jungian Philosopher's Stone.  It is at the center of both a Jungian religion and a Jungian proto-science.  I feel the Jungian religion has failed (and I am hardly alone in this belief/observation).  It is no longer serving the experience and valuation of the autonomous psyche.  It has lost its way.

I still want to pursue this Jungian project.  I am primarily concerned with the experience and valuation of the autonomous psyche.  But I feel that this relationship to the autonomous psyche needs to become more ethical if it is to be legitimate.  To valuate this Other, we need to know it better.  We need to let it be autonomous, to be Other, to be objective.  We cannot dictate its being with "soul-making" and other ego-serving Jungian colonizations.

Scientific tools of objective investigation enable a valuative approach to the autonomous psyche.  We cannot continue to approach this Other-object without a devotion to understanding what it is.  We can't just seek it because it seems to feed and flatter us.  That is a childish approach to relationship, and the Jungian childhood is over.  It's time for the Jungian "midlife crisis" to actually happen, time for Jungianism to live the adolescence it has so ferociously avoided and excused itself from.

The failed "Jungian religion" has been concerned with egoic transcendence, self-promotion, and the justification of Jungian spiritualistic identity.  But now its time to learn responsibility for and facilitation of the Other/Self/tribe.  Jungians have always very lopsidedly come to Jungianism to get a "hit" off of the sacred robes of its transcendentalism.  They have come so that they can transcend their humble modern limitations.  They have not come to serve Jungianism or treat it.  This is so habitual that most Jungians have no sense whatsoever that Jungianism could be needy or wounded.  Jungianism is treated like manna, a natural resource for personal consumption.  But the big Jungian cake can no longer feed so many people . . . and Jungians have only ever been cake-eaters, never cake-bakers.

Jungianism is in adolescent crisis.  It's cake has been all eaten up, and now it wanders toward "The World" looking for more cake (does psychoanalysis still have some to spare?  Does academic postmodernism?).  It will either learn how to bake cake itself or it will perish.  If it is to survive, it will need to learn some life skills . . . and some hard truths about itself.

The challenge that faces Jungianism is this: how will it find a way to be responsible for creating what it wants to find?  To pass through its romantic infantilism, Jungianism will need to change and adapt.  And the environment it needs to adapt to is the modern one, the one where science is not a Terrible Beast or monster in the closet.  The only monster in Jungianism's closet is the wraith of its infantile dependency, its habit of being fed as much cake as it can eat.  But the "cake" has an addictive ingredient that has imprisoned Jungianism.  It has fattened Jungianism for the slaughter inside the Jungian gingerbread house.  What remains to be seen is whether it can rebel and shove the witch into the oven.

The "cake" and "candy" I'm talking about is the self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing Jungian spirituality that most Jungians seem to think is the lifeblood of Jungianism.  When you are able to eat cake for every meal, it's hard to revise your diet in the name of "health" . . . even as your chosen diet ushers you to an early demise.

Scientific tools, it seems to me, have the best chance of creating a healthy diet for Jungianism, because they are most likely to cut through the all-cake-all-the-time delusion.  Jungian subjectivity needs an encounter with objectivity to be dismantled.

Jungians don't need to find a "new god".  They don't need to replace the cake god with the broccoli god.  They don't even have to stop eating cake entirely.  They just need to get a more balanced, more "adult" diet.  And they need to be responsible enough to feed themselves and do so healthily.
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modok

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Re: Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2013, 06:35:35 PM »
Jungian psychology cannot be fitted into the scientific paradigm because science is Aristotelian, whereas Jungian psychology, with its archetypal notion, builds on the Platonic paradigm. Aristotle argued that what we see around us contains both matter and form (hule and eidos). This means that the form is not transcendental to the worldly object, what Plato had argued. Today we know that any living organism's form is programmed into its genes, and in this sense the form exists within its every cell. But this is true also of material particles. An electron is not a little material marble. It is a package with an inbuilt "computer program" with Electronic Natural Laws, which makes the electron react in a particular way when interacting with other particles. When interacting with a certain type of particle, it is programmed to react in a certain way.

So the immaterial factor is inbuilt into the particles. They are little monads that have the rules for interaction within themselves. They "know" how to behave. Hence Aristotle was right in his contention that the objects carry their form within themselves. This defines the scientific paradigm.

But the Platonic notion has today renewed its prominence: substance, which is inert, is transcended by its form. The psyche works according to the Platonic paradigm, and not according to the Aristotelian and scientific paradigm. So the psyche cannot be pinned down by science. It is as simple as that. That's why M-L von Franz said that Jungian psychology isn't really scientific. In fact, she said that it is more akin to Taoism.

What illustrates this finely is that the archetype cannot be pinned down in scientific terms. They grapple with the archetypal notion in Journal of Analytical Psychology and elsewhere, but they cannot make sense of it in scientific terms. Nevertheless, the psyche functions as if there were archetypes (I discuss it here). There is no way around this fact. So the archetype is transcendental, just like Plato had argued. It is transcendental in the same sense as the Kantian categories. Much like the Kantian categories, they are deducible from the empirical facts of reality. However, they cannot be observed, as such. They are not "things". Nor are they "laws" built into into the neural system.

In a similar vein, the notion of projection is central to psychology. The "inert" object of projection derives its "form" from outside. This is a Platonic principle that a scientifically minded person can never quite understand. It is an extremely important factor of reality, and it has been well-known for a century, but the average person (including the average politician) lacks a proper understanding of it. But people do certainly know about the empirical notion and the notion of natural laws.

So we simply have to accept that the world is governed by two paradigms, the Aristotelian and the Platonic, the physical and the transcendental. This does not mean that science has nothing to say about the psyche. Rather, it means that it can only provide a very reductive explanation, which gives us a skewed view of the psyche.

Arguably, the solution to your problem of scientific inadequacy in Jungian psychology is to accept it as belonging to another paradigm, and to try and develop this paradigm, instead of making fruitless attempts to accommodate it to science.

Mats Winther

I mean no disrespect to Matt Koeske, but he seems to make the same error of judgment in regards to Jung as modern Jungians and New Age archetype-mystics (Caroline Myss; i think pronounced "Meese") are guilty of doing. They interpret the post-Red Book Jung as having three separate theories: a theory of personality, a theory of archetypes/ the collective unconscious, and the theory of synchronicty. So, logically it led to Koeske defining Jung as progressing through 3 stages, the first being an experimental scientist, the 2nd being the rebellious antireductionist, and the 3rd being a hypocritical senile loony who completely fell off the deep end before his death. What Matt K. and others fail to recognize is how all 3 stages, and all 3 theories are one overarching psychology system: a psychology of synthesis.

Carl Jung's entire theory of the Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, as well as synchronicity, can be summed up with a single quote from Kant:  "What is first given to us is appearance. When combined with consciousness, it is called perception." To Jung, the Anima is the synthesizer of perception. To paraphrase Jung: everything i know, feel, see, and think are part of my consciousness. Synthesis, as described by Kant in the 2nd half of The Critique of Pure Reason, is a bridge between thought and perception, the steady flow of consciousness, referred to by him as imagination; and if you remember from the Collected Works vol.9, that's the same description of the Anima by Carl Jung. The Anima is the bridge between the conscious and the unconscious, the source of our imagination, existing independent of space and time, the source of our projections (all we can ever know about an object is its shadow and not the object as it truly exists independent of the conditions superimposed by the mind). So, in Carl Jung there exists a duality between the Anima-figure and the Anima-archetype.

Also, how can Carl Jung be against theory and statistics? What Carl Jung was fighting against was the bunk science of foundationalism, the preferred method of the rationalists and empiricists (once again going back to Kant), where any knowledge can be built from the ground up (from its foundation). Theories are always synthetic since they don't contain any relationship between the predicate and the subject: it does not follow at all that a son harbors resentment toward his father and a secret sexual longing for his mother. If it were true we'd all suffer from the same neurosis. Freud based the oedipal complex on his own insecurities about sex from living in an orthodox Jewish household, as he himself wrote about.

modok

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Re: Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2013, 06:38:35 PM »
i was in the middle of writing that before you posted, btw Koeske

Matswin

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Re: Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2013, 05:44:21 AM »
Matt, the problem is that science completely repudiates the teleological explanatory model, which is essential to psychological thinking and the archetypal notion. In psychology, it is not at all essential to understand what it is, as such, and what is the causal agent. What matters is the telos, that is, what is its purpose. We don't bother about what the anima is or whether its appearance is dependent on some causal factor. We deliberate its purpose and what this dream figure aims at. What does the anima point at? This is how we interpret dreams. We don't say: "I had this dream because I ate so much last night!". Instead, we try to interpret the dream as a goal oriented process that aims at achieving something, that is, some form of compensation or realization in consciousness. What is it for? It is the central question, which is irreconcilable with scientific reasoning.

Thus, the archetype is a goal-oriented entity that has its "cause" in the future. Its purpose and its meaning is what defines its existence. There is no way that a scientifically minded person can swallow such an explanatory model. Nor can a scientifically minded person properly understand projection. If a man develops a mother transference, the scientist will find the explanation in the fact that the female object of projection has the same hair colour as the patient's mother. That explains it. The hair is the causa agens. But this means that he hasn't understood the notion of transference properly as a goal-seeking process. Any hook for projection will do. The mother can be projected on a cow.

I can harp on the notion of shadow projection endlessly, the rationalist will never get it. If a person latches out at someone, with unfounded accusations, or whatever, this means that a shadow projection has taken place. The rationalist will find the explanation in the fact that the victim had a morose facial expression, for instance. This explains the projection. Had the victim only kept up his appearance, then the little "misunderstanding" hadn't occurred. So the addressee of the projection is the causal agent and he is the one who should pull himself together in order to avoid such mishaps. If everybody just kept smiling, then such projections wouldn't take place. This is causal reasoning according to the scientific model. It is how most people think in our rationalistic and causalistic era. It is also how politicians understand projection, namely as a "misunderstanding". But it is anti-psychology.

The archetype is a goal-seeking purposive process, which has a goal in aim. This is what it is. The archetype, as a goal, transcends consciousness and the empirical world, and thus cannot be explained in terms of physicalism and causalism. As it is both goal and 'meaning', it is spiritual. Thus, it can neither be detected nor grasped by consciousness, at a particular point in time. Whether it transcends the physical universe, along lines of Platonic Forms, we don't know. We only know that the archetype is future-transcendent or time-transcendent, that is, it is a teleological and not a causal process. It draws the individuation process towards itself. If the goal is reached the archetypal manifestation will disappear, which is known as conscious integration. What remains is its manifestation in the conscious world and an abstraction of its significance and meaning.

So I don't believe in the notion of the archetype as the logic and the dynamics of complex systems in the process of self-organizing, since these entities are neither goal-seeking nor carriers of meaning. It is a causal explanatory model that fails to account for the teleological nature of the archetype. Nor does it conform with Jung's definition of the archetype. An archetype is like a psychopomp, something that guides the individuant into the future. It already knows the goal from the beginning and it awaits the individuant at the goal. It can wane and it can wax, but it does not change. It can keep returning from early childhood onwards, throughout a person's life, and keep repeating its message in order to draw the individuant to itself.   

I sympathize with your qualms about mysticism and "romantic infantilism" in Jungian psychology. It reminds me of New Age, which represents a regress to the pagan mindset. But I don't think the remedy is scientific stringency and causal explanatory models. The teleological notion ought to be confiscated from the hands of gods and goddesses. We should be able to interpret teleology in terms of time-transcendence (future-transcendence). It means to discard Jung's Platonic notion of a transcendent ultimate reality, namely the unus mundus or the psychoid sphere. Together with it, the synchronistic theory is also thrown out. It is wholly useless.

Mats Winther

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Re: Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2013, 03:35:19 AM »
I should have said that this is my own loose sketch of archetypal ontology. Jung himself variedly implanted the archetype, as such, in the "brain structure"; in a otherworldly sphere as a Platonic entity; as the counterpart of instincts, that is, at the opposite end of the spectrum, as part of our genetic constitution. I read Van Eenwyk's book "Archetypes & Strange Attractors", which interprets the archetype in the terms of self-organizing systems, but it didn't make me wiser.

The notion of the archetype as "spirit" means that morals and 'meaning' are part of the universe, and that spiritual meaning is not derived from biological systems. It implies that spirit is real. The Jungian notion of the "reality of the unconscious" cannot be taken seriously if the intrinsic part of the unconscious, namely the archetypes, are derived from material existence. Jung's metaphysic coalesces matter and psyche at the lowest level. Thus, spirit and matter are both reduced to "the meaning of number". So Jung's ultimate archetypal reality is also the ultimate reality of matter, and thus it is ultimate boredom.

The notion of spirit mustn't only be understood in the metaphorical sense. It is real and it represents another worldview than the physicalistic, which is really incompatible with the former. So the universe is double-sided, a worldview which coincides with how I have sketched the structure of the self, namely as bipartite. It implies that we can look at the universe with spiritual eyes, or we can look at it with worldly eyes, but not really at the same time.

If we look at the archetype with worldly eyes, then we will see the genetic and epigenetic factors that have formulated the anima. But it won't provide a full explanation. It explains why many Western inhabitants have an anima and why sub-Saharan people lack an anima. But it won't make the anima real and it cannot explain many of its characteristics, such as its autonomous will and teleological nature. Science can only explain how something functions, for instance, it can explain how electrons function. However, the anima is all about autonomous spiritual intent. Thus, science cannot explain what the anima is.

Mats Winther

Matt Koeske

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Re: Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2013, 01:42:28 PM »
I mean no disrespect to Matt Koeske, but he seems to make the same error of judgment in regards to Jung as modern Jungians and New Age archetype-mystics (Caroline Myss; i think pronounced "Meese") are guilty of doing. They interpret the post-Red Book Jung as having three separate theories: a theory of personality, a theory of archetypes/ the collective unconscious, and the theory of synchronicty. So, logically it led to Koeske defining Jung as progressing through 3 stages, the first being an experimental scientist, the 2nd being the rebellious antireductionist, and the 3rd being a hypocritical senile loony who completely fell off the deep end before his death. What Matt K. and others fail to recognize is how all 3 stages, and all 3 theories are one overarching psychology system: a psychology of synthesis.

Modok, I'm a little confused because you quote Mats Winther but address me (Matt Koeske).  Also, I don't recognize my views at all in your critique . . . although I don't really recognize Mats Winther's views in your critique, either.

Therefore, I'm not sure how to respond.  If you did mean to address me, I think it's the first time I've been likened to a New Age mystic of any type (and I don't know who Caroline Myss is).

I'm not sure I would break Jung's life and work down into three stages as you proposed/criticize.  It's hard to assess this, because Jung revised some of his earlier works (like Symbols of Transformation) many years after the initial publication, bringing them more into line with his later thought.

I definitely see continuity in Jung's work, nonetheless.  He is consistently romantic, although at times (especially when younger) he attempted to express himself in a more conventionally empirical style (which at times feels "defensive" or artificial to me).

What I do see in Jung's body of work is a kind of cycle from romanticism through a clash between romanticism and empiricism and then back to a somewhat different form of romanticism.  Jung's late works have many scholarly traits.  Mysterium and Aion are overflowing with alchemical and Gnostic scholarship, respectively.  Synchronicity is a funny little book.  His approach is quite "empirical" throughout, but he hopes to prove a romantic/mystical idea (i.e., synchronicity).  I would hardly describe him as a senile looney in these later works, but I do feel that he had embraced a more personal quest in these late works (and in Answer to Job) and turned away somewhat from his efforts to bring a "universal psychology" to the modern world.

That was both good and bad.  I would personally have preferred it if he had revised and improved his "universal psychology".  He spent the 1930s trying to be the "great man" of modern psychology (battling against psychoanalysis), and although he had many great insights in these years, he also managed to make errors (of arrogance, more often than not, or perhaps rage) that have been the bane of analytical psychology ever since (most notably his anti-Semitic/Nazi-collaborative statements).

I suspect he realized on some level that he had flown too close to the sun, and he turned in his late works to more of a self-exploration than a cultural-analysis.  My contention is that these late works tell us a great deal about Jung, but not necessarily much about the subjects he addressed (e.g., alchemy, Gnosticism, Christianity, etc., even psychology).  I always feel like Jung was doing alchemy in these works rather than writing about alchemy.

But my only real gripe with these writings is that Jungians have often taken them to be prophetical messages of Truth from a kind of modern Christ figure.  That is, Jungians refuse to learn about Jung-the-man from these texts and insist that they house special esoteric wisdom.  This aggrandizement of Jung's late works displaces them and only assures that Jungianism cannot develop critically while in thrall to the "gospel-ization" of Jung's "wisdom texts".

In any case, to call Jung's entire corpus a "psychology of synthesis" is a piece of wishful Jungian fantasy.  Jung's corpus was sprawling, disjointed, complex, and without many clearly interrelated trends (what was consistent was his romantic quest).  This is complicated all the more by a Collected Works that is grouped more or less thematically and not chronologically (containing many disparate essays and relatively few cohesive books).

What I think we have with Jung's Collected Works is "prima materia", a great many often fascinating observations and speculations that are still looking for (or perhaps trying to avoid) a unifying theory.  I often compare Jung to an amateur naturalist, although a very astute and highly educated one. He was a proto-scientist . . . not a philosopher or theorist, per se.  He collected and analyzed data, and although he often speculated about what it meant (in a fairly disorganized, typically intuitive way), he was very clear that he meant his speculations to be "auxiliary ideas" or intellectual tools that helped him take varying analytical perspectives on the data.  He was not in search of a theory of everything.  He was, I think, in love with his data and in a state of wonderment at the psyche (especially the autonomous psyche or "unconscious").

I like and admire this about him.  I also think it allows his data and those "auxiliary ideas" that speculated about them to still have a value to an as yet undeveloped scientific approach to analytical psychology.


Carl Jung's entire theory of the Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, as well as synchronicity, can be summed up with a single quote from Kant:  "What is first given to us is appearance. When combined with consciousness, it is called perception."

I don't follow you here or recognize how this sums up Jung's archetype and synchronicity theories.

To Jung, the Anima is the synthesizer of perception. To paraphrase Jung: everything i know, feel, see, and think are part of my consciousness. Synthesis, as described by Kant in the 2nd half of The Critique of Pure Reason, is a bridge between thought and perception, the steady flow of consciousness, referred to by him as imagination; and if you remember from the Collected Works vol.9, that's the same description of the Anima by Carl Jung. The Anima is the bridge between the conscious and the unconscious, the source of our imagination, existing independent of space and time, the source of our projections (all we can ever know about an object is its shadow and not the object as it truly exists independent of the conditions superimposed by the mind). So, in Carl Jung there exists a duality between the Anima-figure and the Anima-archetype.

Again, I don't really recognize Jung's ideas in your description.  Either you may be muddling some of Jung's ideas together or I just don't understand where you mean to go with this.

Also, how can Carl Jung be against theory and statistics? What Carl Jung was fighting against was the bunk science of foundationalism, the preferred method of the rationalists and empiricists (once again going back to Kant), where any knowledge can be built from the ground up (from its foundation).

Jung often spoke critically of "theory", perhaps unjustly.  I think he meant these critiques to contrast "theory" with observation/empiricism/phenomenology.  Jung valued observation without neatly reductive interpretation.  He constantly declared himself an empiricist.

I think Jung was critical of what we might now call "scientism" or justifications for theories that claim scientific credibility and reasonableness albeit spuriously and without legitimate scientific evidence.  He had Freud in mind most of all, I suspect.  But Jung's intent was to be "more scientific".  That is, his critique of scientism is that it is poor science.

Sorry I'm not grasping your arguments better.

Best,
Matt
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Matswin

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Re: Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2013, 01:27:16 PM »
I don't mean to posit Truths. Like I said, these are largely my own thoughts and experiences of the archetype, which coincide largely with Jung's observations. I am keen on maintaining the notion of the autonomous archetype. It's not only that I love it, it is also how it presents itself. It presents itself as an autonomous will that doesn't think much of my earthly existence, and it wants me to abandon my worldly engagements for a life wholly in the spirit. A couple of weeks ago I awoke in the middle of the night by a voice calling my name twice. I wasn't startled at all, but remained wholly calm. Just then the moon came wandering out of the trees and shone right into my room. I was awakened so that I could revere the presence of the moon goddess in my room. In Amerindian culture, this little experience, which is kind of everyday to me, would have certified that I belonged to the totem of the moon. However, I interpret it as the call of the spirit. It wants my full attention. It says that it is real, has autonomous will, and has eternal life. It doesn't give a freaking shit about science.

Your argument against the notion of "spirit" is that it's unscientific. But this is really what I've been saying. It is wholly outside the scientific paradigm. The notion can only work if we close our scientific eye and open our spiritual eye. So I am saying that there are two different ways of looking at reality. Only the spiritual paradigm can give an account of the archetype, as such. It is fruitless to search for an explanation in scientific terms. Jungians should give it up and reason along lines of meaning and teleology instead.

The romantic eccentricity of Jungian psychology is reminiscent of neo-Paganism. In the pagan world, the spiritual world was always proximate. The worldly and spiritual spheres were coalesced to a high degree. With Christianity, a transcendentalization of the spirit occurred, when it was moved away from the worldly realm, with the tragic consequence that we today have become obsessed with matter and abstract concepts. This has, in turn, speeded up the scientific advance. My interpretation of Jung's remedy to today's materialism is this: he has incurred a regressive movement back to the pagan mindset, in order to imbue the world with spirit, so to speak. The modern way is to realize the omnipresence of the psyche, since we know today that the gods aren't responsible for the unfolding of the natural world, not even the earthquakes. But it might constitute a synchronistic event, that is a psychoid event. Thus, it could depend on how our psychic life has been conducted. This is really an archaic way of thought in modern guise.

Jung created a metaphysic according to which psyche and matter are, in essence, the same thing. This foundational level he termed the Unus Mundus (from alchemy), or the psychoid layer. This is where the archetype, as such, resides. Thus, the psychoid archetypal layer has given rise to both the physical and psychic realms, which are equally real. It means that the psychic element is not secondary to matter as it has not risen from matter. Thus, the psyche cannot be equated with neural signalling, as the psyche was there from the beginning, along with the foundational archetypes. Bertrand Russell has created a formally similar worldview in his version of neutral monism (here). The psychoid layer reveals its presence through the phenomenon of synchronicity. It implies that a mental and a physical event are coincident, that is, they are determined by the same preexistent archetypal 'meaning'. The psychoid is the common denominator of both the mental and physical spheres.

Since neither the psyche nor the archetype is secondary to matter one cannot expect to find a solution to the nature of the archetype in the science of matter. That's why notions of  self-organizing systems, along lines of Ilya Prigogine, et al., is not a traversable path. This is the science of matter. If you are going to explain the archetype along these lines, you must first repudiate Jung's definition of archetypal nature, and provide a new definition. 

Jung has founded his psychology upon a worldview that coalesces the psychic with the material. This is why you have found that it doesn't quite follow scientific criteria, nor that it is philosophy or superstition. As you say, it is muddled, complicated and self-contradictory. Its very metaphysical foundation is paradoxical. Whereas science is founded upon matter alone, Jung founded his psychology upon the psychoid, that is, a conjugate of psyche and matter. He believed this notion to be paradigmatic.

But, as I've said, Jung's coalesced metaphysic may generate a regress to pagan thoughtways, since it is akin to the pagan worldview, in which the gods were always nigh. The gods (= the archetypes) gave rise to the world. They keep reaching into material existence, affecting the events on earth (= synchronistic events + dreams). It is an advanced and conscious way of living in a pagan universe. 

Against this, I have argued that the archetype is preexistent according to the spiritual paradigm, but not according to the scientific paradigm. According to my scientific consciousness, there cannot possibly be such a thing as a preexistent archetype. But there is, according to my spiritual worldview. So I am double-natured in this sense. I repudiate the notion of a psychoid layer together with the synchronistic notion. There is no such thing as a conjoint psyche and matter. I hold that we can only attain a limited success within the scientific paradigm, which I endorse fully. At the limits of science, we have to remove our scientific glasses and put on spiritual glasses, and begin to see the universe differently. Therefore I endorse the spiritual paradigm equally much as the scientific paradigm, although they are mutually exclusive. In this dual and complementarian worldview, the spirit retains its transcendent nature, which means that it cannot be observed through our scientific spectacles. So the pagan worldview remains an historical artefact. Neo-paganism and New Age does not present a solution to us. The Aztecs, Celts, and the Mycenaeans are very inspiring and interesting to read about, but the way back to this childlike age is barred.

Mats Winther

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Re: Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2013, 05:36:13 PM »
I don't mean to posit Truths. Like I said, these are largely my own thoughts and experiences of the archetype, which coincide largely with Jung's observations. I am keen on maintaining the notion of the autonomous archetype. It's not only that I love it, it is also how it presents itself.

I don't disagree with what you are saying here.  My point earlier was that these are phenomenological observations . . . and just as valid to a scientific study of archetypal phenomena as to a faith-based approach.  They are not something a "scientifically-minded person" would not understand or have access to.

It presents itself as an autonomous will that doesn't think much of my earthly existence, and it wants me to abandon my worldly engagements for a life wholly in the spirit.

Now, here you begin to bridge over into interpretation and away from what can be scientifically studied.  That is your prerogative and I don't mean to condemn it at all.  I mean merely to say that a scientific approach to archetypal phenomena doesn't have to stop at this point.  Experience of archetypal phenomena doesn't preclude scientific investigation.  You make a choice to take a faith-based approach to the numinous perception of archetypal phenomena . . . and that is common and perfectly reasonable and not inherently dysfunctional. 

But it is where you begin to other science that you err in my opinion.  You polarize your faith-based approach with a scientific approach.  In my experience, this is wholly arbitrary.  Personally, I do not support that approach to the Otherness of archetypal phenomena, because it insists on concocting an Enemy who is made into a personal shadow figure: the one who is faithless, who doesn't believe, who doesn't understand, who lacks "soul", etc.  And the entire spirituality developed out of this experience is now a battle against this Enemy/shadow. 

I see this as spirituality regressive, because all along the Enemy is an aspect (the shadow) of the believer . . . and the insistence on enmity is arbitrary and threatens to become unethical as it is projected onto others.  This construction undermines what I consider the "spiritual" path, which is a path of ethical consciousness and not merely of mystical, numinous experience that "choses" one and makes them superior.  There is a significant danger of inflation in this approach that insists on enmity and othering and lacks sympathy with or understanding of the shadow.


A couple of weeks ago I awoke in the middle of the night by a voice calling my name twice. I wasn't startled at all, but remained wholly calm. Just then the moon came wandering out of the trees and shone right into my room. I was awakened so that I could revere the presence of the moon goddess in my room. In Amerindian culture, this little experience, which is kind of everyday to me, would have certified that I belonged to the totem of the moon. However, I interpret it as the call of the spirit. It wants my full attention. It says that it is real, has autonomous will, and has eternal life. It doesn't give a freaking shit about science.

That you or any other person find a reason for meaning and faith in this kind of experience is entirely fine.  But scientists and rational materialists also experience just as much wonder and love and harmony with the universe as you, even though they don't make faith-based interpretations of similar events.

Again, the problem I see is in the othering assumption that "those people" do not see or feel as you do and therefore are wrong, lost, dysfunctional or degenerate.  Those othering conclusions are wholly unnecessary.  They don't validate your experience.


Your argument against the notion of "spirit" is that it's unscientific. But this is really what I've been saying. It is wholly outside the scientific paradigm. The notion can only work if we close our scientific eye and open our spiritual eye.

My argument against "spirit" is twofold.  First, where psychology is concerned, I feel a scientific attitude must be maintained.  Psychology is the study of psyche, not the worship of it.  The goal of psychology is to understand psyche as accurately as possible.  So I am opposed to spiritualistic conditions imposed on psychology.  They are always anti-psychology.  So, in this sense, I am agreeing that these are separate paradigms.

My second, more subtle, complex and personal argument against "spirit" is that it is prone to devolve into "spiritual diseases" like inflation and has no mechanism to detect and recover from these diseases.  I find conventional "spiritualities" lacking in rigor and ethical self-examination and self-correction.  The core of spirituality is valuation of the Other (as God, Self, Tao, etc.), but I have found that spirituality is very slippery and typically becomes almost entirely egoic.  The spiritualist comes to worship a deified image of him or herself and not a genuine Other.  Spirituality can easily become self-serving and self-defending, and too frequently allows the spiritualist to think and behave unethically toward others.

I am not some kind of hard bitten reductive materialist.  I come from a spiritual position and have lived my adult life devoted to a spiritual quest.  Spirituality inevitably involves many sacrifices, and these are often sacrifices of our precious things, the things we don't expect and don't want to part with . . . especially those things we feel make us secure, comfortable, well-defended, and even superior to others.

At a point a number of years ago, I felt my spiritual quest demanded that I sacrifice the spiritualistic attitude.  It was too self-serving and self-protective and it blinded my from the reality of the Other.  My atheism, naturalism, and scrutiny of spirituality derive from this.  They are not otherings.  I am not an outsider to spiritual paths and ways of being and seeing.  Sometimes the love of God can even call for the sacrifice of God (as totem and object of belief).


So I am saying that there are two different ways of looking at reality. Only the spiritual paradigm can give an account of the archetype, as such. It is fruitless to search for an explanation in scientific terms. Jungians should give it up and reason along lines of meaning and teleology instead.

As above, I wholly disagree with this notion, and I have many essays and reflections on this forum that demonstrate that the spiritual paradigm is not essential to valid investigation of archetypal phenomena.


Jung created a metaphysic according to which psyche and matter are, in essence, the same thing. This foundational level he termed the Unus Mundus (from alchemy), or the psychoid layer. This is where the archetype, as such, resides. Thus, the psychoid archetypal layer has given rise to both the physical and psychic realms, which are equally real. It means that the psychic element is not secondary to matter as it has not risen from matter. Thus, the psyche cannot be equated with neural signalling, as the psyche was there from the beginning, along with the foundational archetypes.

I find this tendency in Jung dangerously spiritualistic in the sense that it conflates a poeticism or allegory with materiality.  "Psychoid" is a concretized spiritualism.  It doesn't stick with psychic phenomena.  It posits some kind of unknowable structure behind psychic phenomena.  But this psychoid realm is a placeholder idea that cannot be sensed or measured.  What Jung is thinking is that there has to be a place at which psyche and brain are entirely equivalent, where matter crossed over into psyche.

But, again, Jung is trying to understand the unity of matter and mind without complexity models.  He doesn't have a notion of emergence from dynamic complexity.  Without a concept of emergence (which can be scientifically observed in many systems), Jung feels compelled to posit the concretized spiritualism of "psychoid".  As always, Jung is looking for a conjunction of opposites.  He thinks in opposites.  It is his working simplification of and placeholder for the unrealized construct of complexity.

As an obsolete placeholder theory, psychoid can now be replaced with a complexity/emergence model.  Of course, as many Jungians are heavily spiritualistic, psychoid is hard to part with.  Spiritualism loves concretization.  It wants a kind of competition for physical matter.  It has "matter envy" and wants an exalted spirit that is "like matter", of equal substantiality to matter, but not matter.  It devalues and does not want psyche, which is too insubstantial.

Obviously, I'm not terribly found of Jung's extra-psychic theories he developed later in his life (psychoid, synchronicity, etc.).  They seem desperate and sloppy to me.  But on the positive side, they do derive from a very astute realization: that he could not understand the mechanism by which matter and mind were equivalent.  To put it simplistically, the missing mechanism is complexity.  It is the "mystery" than Jung failed to adequately imagine . . . understandably.  It is both simpler and more wondrous than the spiritualisms he resorted to.


Since neither the psyche nor the archetype is secondary to matter one cannot expect to find a solution to the nature of the archetype in the science of matter. That's why notions of  self-organizing systems, along lines of Ilya Prigogine, et al., is not a traversable path. This is the science of matter. If you are going to explain the archetype along these lines, you must first repudiate Jung's definition of archetypal nature, and provide a new definition.

The burden of proof is on Jung and those who would support his views on the origin and nature of archetype, synchronicity, and so forth, because these ideas do not have scientific evidence behind them and they are not self-evident.  Complex dynamic systems (not all of which are material) are abundantly demonstrated and studiable.  They are not concepts or purely mental models.

Jung has founded his psychology upon a worldview that coalesces the psychic with the material. This is why you have found that it doesn't quite follow scientific criteria, nor that it is philosophy or superstition. As you say, it is muddled, complicated and self-contradictory. Its very metaphysical foundation is paradoxical. Whereas science is founded upon matter alone, Jung founded his psychology upon the psychoid, that is, a conjugate of psyche and matter. He believed this notion to be paradigmatic.

Your construction of science is too simplistic.  Science can study anything that is observable or logically deducible from observations.  It can study probabilities.  It can study immaterial systems that have physical effects.  Again, Jung's psychoid placeholder theory is not demonstrable, not observable, not measurable.  It is a purely abstract model and is only as good as it is explanatory of relevant phenomenon.  Moreover, it needs to be a simpler and more reasonable explanation than competing ones.

That it does not incorporate or account for the effects of complex system dynamics that are relevant to mind/matter unity (i.e., both brain and memory are clearly complex dynamic systems) is an overt flaw in the paradigm.  It is missing this key model that illuminates the mysterious pattern.


But, as I've said, Jung's coalesced metaphysic may generate a regress to pagan thoughtways, since it is akin to the pagan worldview, in which the gods were always nigh. The gods (= the archetypes) gave rise to the world. They keep reaching into material existence, affecting the events on earth (= synchronistic events + dreams). It is an advanced and conscious way of living in a pagan universe. 

There are definitely some Jungian and New Age perspectives like this, but I think Jung was more subtle and sophisticated.  If we take him at his word, when he spoke this way, he was being figurative and subjective, describing this "animate" (or complex dynamic) aspect of the psyche as it is often perceived, as it is symbolically represented, as it seems and feels.  This is the phenomenological report before the analysis.

Against this, I have argued that the archetype is preexistent according to the spiritual paradigm, but not according to the scientific paradigm. According to my scientific consciousness, there cannot possibly be such a thing as a preexistent archetype.

Again, although I recognize your differentiation between spiritual and scientific, I think you consistently underestimated and devalue what science can say about something like "preexistent archetypes".  Evolutionary psychology has very similar theories to Jung's archetype theory, and has sought to test these hypotheses scientifically.  And it has made some progress (although it may raise more questions than it answers . . . but such is the nature of scientific inquiry).

But, if by "preexistent archetype" you mean something like Platonic ideas, then no, I don't think science could verify that.  Science makes that theory seem very unlikely (and more importantly, unnecessary to explain the relevant phenomena), but as the idea is fundamentally metaphysical or posits a kind of pre-physical idealism that can nowhere be corroborated or evidenced, science cannot definitely disprove it.  It is much the same as with a hypothesis that claims God created the physical universe by created it to run autonomously with its own sets of laws.  Well, maybe so.  Science can't disprove that.  It can only demonstrate that the God hypothesis is superfluous.

Although Jung flirts with the Platonic/Kantian construction of archetypes as primordial ideas, I would argue that that speculation is not really essential to a functional archetype theory (and most Jungians today seem to agree with that much).


I repudiate the notion of a psychoid layer together with the synchronistic notion. There is no such thing as a conjoint psyche and matter. I hold that we can only attain a limited success within the scientific paradigm, which I endorse fully. At the limits of science, we have to remove our scientific glasses and put on spiritual glasses, and begin to see the universe differently. Therefore I endorse the spiritual paradigm equally much as the scientific paradigm, although they are mutually exclusive. In this dual and complementarian worldview, the spirit retains its transcendent nature, which means that it cannot be observed through our scientific spectacles.

The essential problem with this as I see it is that your assertion of a complementary spiritual worldview, because it is totally beyond (as you claim) the purview of science can only be believed in, but neither verified or falsified.  Who's to say, then, what construction of spirituality is right or why one construction might be better than another?  This complementary spiritual world/perspective cannot even be considered a "theory" . . . if it is so removed form science.  Which is fine.  Such is the nature of religious belief.  But you seem to make it part of a theoretical system.  You grant it explanatory power.  It is not, in your treatment, truly distinct from science.  It encroaches on science.  It claims (with questionable legitimacy) to be able to do some things science can't do.

You are, as your many ideas and website filled with essays demonstrate, a theorist.  You try to look at data and explain them.  But spiritualistic belief doesn't really require data (if it is so far removed from scientific inquiry).  Ultimately, you need a specific argument to determine where knowledge must end and belief must begin.  But it seems to me that setting that transitional point is very arbitrary.  How can you or anyone trying to do this not allow your whims, desires, or perhaps unconscious motivations determine the arbitrary point?  How does one avoid taking a selfish approach and saying, "Well, I don't like where scientific inquiry takes me on this issue, so I'm going to just say that one must have faith here or that truth will be determined to be spiritual, magical, or whathaveyou"?

It is much more reasonable in my opinion to seek to know as much as can be known as scientifically as possible and to admit that anything beyond that (without acquiring any new and relevant data) is not known or knowable.  That was Jung's stance more or less.  He tried to stick with psychic phenomena and avoid "metaphysics".  He didn't seem to succeed in this ideal all the time, but he was aware of the difference.  Sometimes he seemed to suggest he had beliefs that extended beyond the knowable, but other times he expressed some disdain for belief.

I guess I am saying that, despite your many arguments, I remain unconvinced that your theory is actually complementarian, as you claim, and not contradictory . . . at least as you have explained it in this topic. In the quantum vs. classical physics analogy you draw from, the quantum world is still measurable in some ways.  It can be measured probabilistically.  It's not that science has nothing to say about the quantum world.  It may also be the case that the quantum world is measurable but that we have no tools that can measure it.  The quantum/classical distinction is a placeholder theory, and to the little extent I can understand it, modern physics has proceeded in general acceptance of this placeholder theory, not trying to replace it, but working around it.

In any case, the constructions of forces and particles in the quantum world is theoretical, but those theories are constructed based on the effects on the classical world.  And there are still generally scientific rules for positing the contents and principles of the quantum world.  That is, it's not an anything goes theory.  There is still scientific reasoning involved in the theoretical quantum constructions.

So I'm not sure that the spirit/science approaches are entirely analogous.

-Matt

You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matswin

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Re: Observation and Objectivity as Jungian Lost Soul
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2013, 10:39:09 AM »
I am aware of the dark side of religion and am sympathetic with your qualms about this ambivalent force in human nature. Somehow you associate my notions of a life in the spirit with the religious standpoint. But I wanted to expose and counteract the regressive movement toward the religious standpoint in Jungian psychology. Paganism is paradigmatic of the religious standpoint, due to the conflation of the sacred and the profane. The spirit is always nigh. It is present in the material objects, even. The events of the world are understood as the workings of the spirit. Jung created a metaphysic which facilitates a regressive movement back to a modernized form of paganism, where synchronicity stands for the divine intervention, etc. Richard Noll isn't entirely wrong in his charge against Jungian psychology as a pseudo-religion whose high-priests are the analysts.

Religion means that the spirit is hemmed in, exposed to institutionalization and routinization. Religion serves to close the door to the spirit, once and for all. Worldly life is governed by religious law, as in Islam, where people are enjoined  to eat certain religiously untainted food and to wear proper clothes. I have discussed with Catholics, whose time-honoured religion I respect. But they leave no room for the spirit, because everything is already cut and ready in their life. Even in Protestantism, it is considered uncouth to talk about one's experiences of the spirit. For instance, they aren't interested in hearing about how the moon shone into my bedroom, and its concomitant spiritual meaning, which I mentioned above. The spiritual revelation has already taken place, already two-thousand years ago. Nothing more needs to be said. Now we only need to occupy ourselves with material things, how to provide food for the needy, etc. Alternatively, we must take care not to urinate in the direction of Mecca. This is religion. It is all about quenching the autonomy of the spirit, shutting it into material regulations, how to conduct oneself, etc. 

I concur with your evaluation that religion gives rise to ego-inflation. That's why one should always avoid dealing with Jungian analysts of mediocre intelligence. The paganistic quality of Jungianism has instilled in them the unhealthy notion that their ego is at one with the world. They think that their subjective life has a counterpart in the material events that occur outside them, which is conceited, at best. The worldly and "complete" personality is elevated as self-ideal, whose dark and light qualities the Jungian believer gives expression to, in an attempt to imitate "completeness". It is a form of surreptitious self-aggrandizement with sinister moral repercussions. Such people are very prone to stigmatizing other people as "wrong, lost, dysfunctional or degenerate." But a morally ambivalent person is not "complete" -- he is evil.

So you are wholly correct in characterizing the religious personality as self-serving and prone to inflation. However, you have confused my spiritual standpoint with the religious. The gist of my argument is that spirit and matter must be disentangled, and that they ought to be seen as two different realms of equal reality-status. Such a separation runs counter to the Jungian message, which aims to imbue the world with spirit, by recourse to a very sophisticated psychological theory that outclasses all the Freudian schools. The spiritual paradigm also runs counter to the religious ideal, which wants God to rule the earth. As the scientific paradigm strives after hegemony, so thus the religious paradigm.

The spiritual ideal, as manifested in contemplative praxis, means to tone down the ego and one's worldly engagement. It is anti-narcissistic as it aims at deflating the ego. Piety and long-suffering is the ideal. Such an unassuming attitude, unlike the completeness-ideal, opens the door to the spirit and grants it autonomy. Although it is antithetical to the religious standpoint, many a scientific person can feel its allure. Some scientists are open to spiritual interpretations of the cosmos, it's just that their daily work follows a scientific explanatory model. But it's not that they are allergic to ideas of The Great Spirit lying behind the Big Bang. However, the next day they will continue with their calculations. To make an empirical observation of the spirit in the personal sphere is not in disagreement with the scientific attitude. Unlike religious people, scientists are open to new observations of any phenomena.

I follow the scientific principle of bipartite complementarity. I argue like this: certain phenomena in the realm of psychology, especially, cannot be explained by science. It calls for a complementarian metaphysical model according to which the universe is both spiritual and material. But it is not experiential as a dual universe. Depending on the conscious viewpoint of the observer, it is either spiritual or material (scientific). Yet, neither of the models will suffice as sole explanatory model. Thus, a complete worldview can only be achieved by having recourse to both models.

You have qualms about using the principle of complementarity outside physics, but Niels Bohr has suggested this himself. In the Gifford lectures ('Causality and Complementarity', 1948–1950) he suggested that theologians make more use of the complementarity principle (Collected Works, vol. 10). Physicist and science historian Abraham Pais says that "Complementarity can be formulated without explicit reference to physics, to wit, as two aspects of a description that are mutually exclusive yet both necessary for a full understanding of what is to be described" (Plotnitsky, Complementarity, loc.cit., p.73).

The most difficult issue that you raise concerns the nature of faith as counterpart to the rational scientific intellect. My point is that the nature of the archetype can never be uncovered by science, as it lacks foundation in the material universe. The archetype, as such, abides in a spiritual universe. Its existence can only be verified by a spiritual consciousness. You seem to presuppose that its revelations are as diverse as the number of individuals. But I'm not so sure of this. The revelations of contemplatives are surprisingly uniform. I believe that a scientist, who has reached the limits of scientific understanding, would feel wholly at peace were he to experience the underlying spiritual foundation of a worldly phenomenon. After all, scientists have already accepted the complementary explanatory model. Arguably, it boils down to this; to accept a complementary view and to abandon our obsession with a unitary world.

Mats Winther