Author Topic: Giegerich on "a little light" to preserve in Jungian Psychology  (Read 10036 times)

Matt Koeske

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Many thanks to Kafiri for sending this to me.

Wolfgang Giegerich always manages to simultaneously intrigue and disappoint me.  He is a very intelligent, sharp-thinking, and constructively critical Jungian who offers many useful insights on the state of Jungian psychology.  There are definite similarities between this short piece and my recent "Lamentation for the Jungian Community".  When I have read Giegerich, I have always had the feeling that he represents a kind of cleaving intelligence the Jungian community generally lacks.  Yet, at the same time, he goes farther with this intellection than I am comfortable with.

The second to last paragraph is a travesty of PoMo language antics (or just plain sloppiness, if you prefer) . . . and this is where Giegerich really meant to bring the point home.  For me, Giegerich always pulls up short, stopping just outside of the realm of the graspable, the usable.  I get the impression that he grasps what he is saying . . . but this is not conveyed tangibly enough for a simpleton like me.  My concern is that Giegerich's obscurantist language can have the same damaging effect on Jungian ideas that New Age popularization and commodification have had.  That is, they both muddy the waters, albeit in different ways.  With Giegerich, this muddiness appears to be entirely undesired . . . and it occurs in spite of the dexterity of his thinking.

But I am very grouchy when it comes to linguistic shenanigans.  I am, after all, a graduate school drop-out from English writing and literature . . . where such PoMo babblisms "colonize all discourse".  This was one of the major reasons I decided to leave academia.  The clear prose of a Jung or a Freud bring gladness to my heart . . . especially after trying to slog through French postmodernism and the general dialect of academic philosophers.

Still, this is an article worth reading, if for no other reason than its general "wake-up call" feeling.  And I hope it might encourage us to talk about what really is most precious and salvageable in Jungian psychology.  I'm not 100% sure I agree with Giegerich that it's the "soul", but it seems to me that this is a topic any post-Jungians must address, and address as intelligently as possible.

-Matt



Quote
A Little Light, to Be Carried Through Night and Storm
Comments on the State of Jungian Psychology Today
Wolfgang Giegerich (Wörthsee near Münich)


The century of psychology is over. The great expectations have been shattered that the emergence of psychology, in particular therapeutic or depth psychology, had given rise to at the beginning of the 20th century. Even Freudian psychoanalysis today is faced with a hostile spirit inmainstrean1 thinking. For psychology in the tradition of C.G. Jung the situation is, on the one hand, a little easier, but on the other much more difficult. It is easier because for the most part it operates leeward of other psychologies, hardly being taken note of; it is more difficult because its innermost substance is fundamentally threatened. 

This threat comes from different directions.

It is, firstly, already inherent in the very way Jungian psychology itself is construed. Inasmuch as Jung's high claim that his psychology was in the status of a strictly empirical science has proven untenable, and as his hope that psychology might provide an answer to the psychological-spiritual predicament of the age failed, as we are now forced to understand (W. Giegerich, "The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man" Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2004).

The threat to the substance of Jungian psychology comes, secondly, also from the adherents and friends of this psychology, all the one hand from the professional Jungians under whose hands it has been turned into something completely different from what Jung himself intended with his 'complex psychology,' as above all Sonu Shamdasani has demonstrated (Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology: The Dream of a Science, Cambridge University Press, 2003). No one is likely to want to say that what Jung had struggled with is still alive among them and has fruitfully been further developed by them.  Still today one would probably concur with Hillman when he stated years ago that the Jungians "really are mostly second rate people with third rate minds" (Hillman, Inter Views, New York [Harper & Row] 1983, p. 36).  Jungian psychology has the misfortune not to have been able to attract great minds, in contrast, e.g., to Freud's psychology, which produced a psychologist like Lacan and was able to inspire many philosophers and poets. On the other hand, the threat comes also from the adherents of Jungian psychology in the wider public, among whom Jung's work degenerated into "pop psychology," in other words into a commodity, which has above all the function of satisfying private ideological-spiritual and emotional needs and thus of compensating for a feeling of lack.

Recently the threat comes, thirdly, from outside, from the Zeitgeist, which with tremendous power pervades the political climate, indeed even affects legislation and administrative regulations.  Depth psychology, which would actually have the task of being, in a certain way, "subversive” with respect to the prevailing collective trends, has meanwhile been taken under the state's wings, controlled and thus "pocketed" by it.  Whereas the state legitimately approaches what it has to regulate from purely external viewpoints, in the case of psychology comprehended as the discipline of interiority, such treatment from an external perspective is fatal.  All the more fatal inasmuch as today this external way of looking at things has become hardened and much more radical: an abstract, completely utilitarian, scientistic, technicistic, quantifying approach. What is essentially wanted today is standardization (enforced conformity, i.e., Gleichschaltung) and control. The supreme guiding principle is that of the distribution of the available money.  A few keywords for this powerful tendency are: certification of practices, quality management, mandated standard treatment procedures for specific illnesses, efficiency, evaluation, evidence-based medicine. ICD-10, provision of health care for the population. This is the one aspect. The other is that the prevailing attitude bases all its hope on biological factors, brain physiology, genetics, behavior therapy, but excludes the mind, the soul, hermeneutics.

In this situation Jungian psychology, as a psychology "with soul," finds itself in a position like that in which the dream ego found itself in the following dream of Jung's: “It was night in some unknown place, and I was making slow and painful headway against a might wind. […] I had my hands cupped around a tiny light which threatened to go out at any moment.  Everything depended on my keeping this little light alive. [...]" (Memories Dreams Reflections. pp. 87f..).

But what is that substance that in fact is still left of our Jungian heritage and that today needs to be carried through night and storm as a little light?  Apart from numerous individual insights, it is a twofold treasure, something that carries a tension between its two aspects within itself: Jung's gift to us of a concept of "soul” and of a concept of “individuality.”

After Jung's death Karl Kerényi wrote. "If I now, looking back upon the phenomenon C.G. Jung, put into words what was most characteristic about him, also on the basis of personal contacts during the last twenty years, then it is taking the soul for real.  For no psychologist of our time, the psyche possessed such a concreteness and importance as for him" (K., Wege und Weggenossen, vol. 2, München [Langen Müller] 1988, p. 346, my transl.). The decisive point here is what is meant by "soul."  A marginal comment on this passage by Kerényi himself makes this clear.  Quoting sentences from a letter of his to C.J. Burckhardt of December 18, 1961, he states, "Jung wrote me [...] citing an alchemist, ‘maior autem animae [pars] extra corpus est' and he really meant it.  He stands out as the only one among his colleagues—at least I have not found a second one among the not confessionally bound psychologists—who firmly believed in the existence of the soul" (ibid., p. 487, my transl.).  The greater part of the soul is outside the body.  With this thesis Jung breaks through the anthropological, biologistic, personalistic prejudice that as a matter of course and without the least critical reflection prevails in, probably, all psychology today.  Man is with “soul,” not the other way around.  "The soul" is a real Universal, and a concrete Universal at that.  Now the door is opened up to the insight that it is logical life, the spiritus rector of man's world relation.  This entails two important additional aspects, namely insight into the essential historical character of "the soul" and into the fact that it is not merely concerned with functionality and mechanisms (reactions, processing of experience, the psychic apparatus), but also with substantial contents or meanings—a fact that is of course in greatest opposition to the nihilistic presupposition of probably all other psychology.  Above all, this concept of soul means that it has been comprehended that the subject matter of psychology cannot be positivized, but is logically negative.

It may seem paradoxical, but is in truth consistent, that precisely because he has a concept of “soul” as a real Universal and as something that cannot be positivized, Jung is able to have real knowledge of true individuality in its singularity and uniqueness.  Both sides (the Universal and the individual) are interdependent, since they both stand on this side of the prevailing abstractness, for which even what is individual is subsumed under an abstract Universal (under a diagnosis, a theory, a definition., a "case report," a statistic, a technique to be applied to it, or merely under the abstract universal concept “individual”), for which however, it must not be individuum ineffabile and must not be apperceived as such.  Because if it were seen as such, it would escape from the (today sublimated) concentration camp of a thinking in terms of control that rules over the entire logic of our age.  But this is precisely what the Jungian approach demands of us in therapy: to meet each person, indeed each moment, in its singularity, in other words, outside of that concentration camp; to release ourselves, without logical safety nets, into the freshness and newness of each present moment and into the atomic subjectivity of our-selves—in order to discover in it, only in it, our true universal humanness.

This is not a lofty program for the illumination of the world, but a little light that is to be carried, in the silence and unseenness of what we as individuals do, through the night of our present.

Wolfgang Giegerich 2004. All rights reserved.


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Kafiri

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Re: Giegerich on "a little light" to preserve in Jungian Psychology
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2007, 09:50:08 PM »
Quote from: Matt Koeske

The second to last paragraph is a travesty of PoMo language antics (or just plain sloppiness, if you prefer) . . . and this is where Giegerich really meant to bring the point home.  For me, Giegerich always pulls up short, stopping just outside of the realm of the graspable, the usable.  I get the impression that he grasps what he is saying . . . but this is not conveyed tangibly enough for a simpleton like me.  My concern is that Giegerich's obscurantist language can have the same damaging effect on Jungian ideas that New Age popularization and commodification have had.  That is, they both muddy the waters, albeit in different ways.  With Giegerich, this muddiness appears to be entirely undesired . . . and it occurs in spite of the dexterity of his thinking.

But I am very grouchy when it comes to linguistic shenanigans.  I am, after all, a graduate school drop-out from English writing and literature . . . where such PoMo babblisms "colonize all discourse".  This was one of the major reasons I decided to leave academia.  The clear prose of a Jung or a Freud bring gladness to my heart . . . especially after trying to slog through French postmodernism and the general dialect of academic philosophers.

Still, this is an article worth reading, if for no other reason than its general "wake-up call" feeling.  And I hope it might encourage us to talk about what really is most precious and salvageable in Jungian psychology.  I'm not 100% sure I agree with Giegerich that it's the "soul", but it seems to me that this is a topic any post-Jungians must address, and address as intelligently as possible.

-Matt


OK Matt, here's the deal.  On the very bottom of the file I sent you is an email address for Giegerich.  I contacted him about using one of his essays on another forum(yah-that one!!).  Why don't you/we contact him and ask about his PoMo take on things.  Do you think his agenda is deconstructionist?  Or, perhaps something else?  Let's see if you can get something from the horse's mouth.  If we just sit around and imagine what some of the post-Jung writers are about we will never get anywhere.  So compose a, now get a grip here Matt, somewhat short email draft, post it here and the rest of us will chime in with our ideas, and when we have something we can all live with, we will send it to him.
"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."
      -Eric Hoffer

Matt Koeske

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Re: Giegerich on "a little light" to preserve in Jungian Psychology
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2007, 11:51:42 PM »
OK Matt, here's the deal.  On the very bottom of the file I sent you is an email address for Giegerich.  I contacted him about using one of his essays on another forum(yah-that one!!).  Why don't you/we contact him and ask about his PoMo take on things.  Do you think his agenda is deconstructionist?  Or, perhaps something else?  Let's see if you can get something from the horse's mouth.  If we just sit around and imagine what some of the post-Jung writers are about we will never get anywhere.  So compose a, now get a grip here Matt, somewhat short email draft, post it here and the rest of us will chime in with our ideas, and when we have something we can all live with, we will send it to him.

Hi Kafiri,

I don't think Giegerich is a deconstructionist.  I know he's very influenced by Hegel.  I am not well read in philosophy.  Ever since I was a freshman in college (and majored in philosophy for one semester  :P), I haven't been able to stomach it.  I recognize this as an unfair prejudice . . . and I know I miss a lot for my ignorance . . . but now that I'm nowhere near academia, I have no inclination to pursue philosophy.  Although I occasionally feel guilty for not being able to get through Nietzsche.  He may be the one philosopher that has intrigued me enough to at least feel abashed for my ignorance.

I like psychology insomuch as it is both scientific (in its essential dedication to the real and to data) and applicable or useful.  So much philosophy has to do with ways of perceiving, but ideas for me are only compelling to the degree that they affect ways of living.  It's a weird "sensation type" prejudice for a heavy intuitive fellow like me . . . but so be it.  I make no claims that my stance is noble.

As for Giegerich's language, I really don't want to pick on it excessively.  I like Giegerich.  He has some excellent and interesting ideas.  To me, his philosophical, highly abstract rhetoric is just a personal affectation (like we all have . . . like my verbosity, let's say).  He is entitled to it.  I am less sympathetic to "real" postmodernists . . . like the hordes of Derrida imitators you find in academia.  It's merely an academic, elitist dialect meant to declare status.  I couldn't take it seriously when I was a student (to the great annoyance of many of my peers and professors), and I don't think I'm getting any more tolerant.

In the Jungian world, Giegerich is the only one I've encountered who sounds like a classic, late 20th century-bred intellectual . . . but his ideas are heavy in a way that Jung's own thinking feels weightier than most of the Jungians'.  Hillman, at his peak moments, also achieves/ed a kind of intellectual impressiveness . . . although with his own "I half-regret never becoming a poet" linguistic style.  Few other Jungians (as Hillman acidly points out and Giegerich quotes) are good with intellectual paradigms.  I don't really know what it means to be a "second rate person" . . . but Jungian thinking does lean to the stagnant side.  I'm sure there are complex reasons for this . . . but in certain circumstances, I suspect the problem comes from the difficulty in "out-thinking" Jung.  It's one thing to charge Jung with sexism or antisemitism (these issues are more complex with Jung than they might seem, but there is clearly something left to be desired) . . . but it's another thing entirely to leap into the same line of reasoning that Jung followed on an issue and "logically exceed" his thinking.  The man was no slouch as a thinker.

And this problem is compounded by the fact that (it is not so terribly hard to get the impression) many Jungians don't even manage to think Jung's ideas through to the level that he did.  He had an especially well-rounded approach to most of his psychological theories.  He was grasping more connections and potentials with lines of reasoning than many of the Jungians seem to.  He's a much better thinker than I am . . . but I like a challenge.  It's taken me a while to just start seeing the seams in some of his ideas.  Only in the last year have I really begun to understand some of Jung's fundamental prejudices and how they affected his ideas and writing.  But every time I think I come up with something he didn't realize, I find it in one of his writings a couple weeks later . . . but usually in some unlikely place.  He might not have emphasized it, but it's there.  The sneaky bastard!

But as Rilke wrote in "The Man Watching" (Bly's translation):
Quote
Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

This has always been my personal ethic.  It's how I learn.  Study doesn't inspire me that much.  I like to be defeated by ideas.  Which means I prefer to be in opposition to the thinkers I most admire . . . like Jung or Giegerich.  This is an approach that works very well for learning the usefulness of ideas . . . but it's not an approach that works well within academia (which prefers a more worshipful tack to its favored texts).

So, please don't take offense at my strange way of admiring Giegerich with hostility.

Yours,
Matt
« Last Edit: April 10, 2007, 09:14:10 AM by Matt Koeske »
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Re: Giegerich on "a little light" to preserve in Jungian Psychology
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2007, 01:03:01 AM »
As for contacting Giegerich, I would love to pick his brain . . . but I don't feel he needs to explain himself.  His desire to write in the style he does is no more or less valid than my own personal distaste for (what I consider) excessive abstraction.  If I can't follow all of his mania for negations (i.e., his belief, which I am not inclined to share, that he needs to explain so many psychological things as negations or negations of negations, inserting an extra ball or two into the juggle) very well, it is only my own fault for being slow.

On the other hand, Giegerich seems to want to take psychology out of the hands of its quasi-biological rhetoric and place it into a more philosophical-linguistic rhetoric (perhaps more like Lacan, who he praises in his piece above).  As you might guess, I have serious doubts about this maneuver.  I already worry that Jungian psychology has muddied up its rhetoric too much with its desire to indulge the New Age market with "simplifications" and self-help-ready bites.  To the best of my understanding, Giegerich believes (in a way similar to Jung himself, but more extreme) that psychology is not a biological subject . . . and cannot be talked about in "positivistic" terms.  He really seems to bang a drum for that.  Sometimes I understand what he's on about, but it isn't easy for me . . . a person who sees the "salvation" of psychology in the most recent biology (evolutionary) and neuroscience.

I get the feeling that Giegerich just wants to say, "The hell with any attempt to fit the 'soul' to a neurological model."  It's kind of segregationist.  By contrast, I have a unifying mentality . . . and correspondingly believe that there is a point of intersection between psychology and neuroscience that doesn't require exceptions, special clauses, or even a dividing wall between fields.  I don't think this because I have a grand idea and I want to fit reality to it.  I believe this because (in my opinion) everything I've read in evolutionary biology seems to support a "revivification" of archetypal psychology.  From archetypal instincts to the duplex structure of consciousness, the Jungian notion of psyche is starting to get filled in with biological data.  In fact, the only major flaw that has to be disposed of in Jungian thinking about the structure of the psyche is the idea that some kind of "transcendence" of a biological model is needed.  So, it is merely an opinion, a prejudice that needs to be excised, not even a fundamental element of the theory.  In my opinion, this is hardly the time to chuck the association with biology out the window.  It's like sending your best stud to the glue factory at the peak of his prime . . . when there's breeding to be done.

I believe the theory I've been pushing (here in various posts on this site) that is only a slightly more biologized version of Jung's theory of ego and Self handles the "biology problem" of things psychic quite elegantly.  At least I have yet to find flaw with it.  It accounts for all data that I am aware of in both depth psychology and biology/neuroscience.  And in spite of its elegance, it doesn't seem reductionist to me . . . in the way that Jung feared scientific rationalism would neuter the grandeur of the psyche.  I think we are living in the era in which the grandeur of the brain has begun to equal (and will soon surpass) the grandeur of the psyche.  Much in the same way that the grandeur of evolution has surpassed the comparatively simplistic and anthro/egocentric idea of creationism.  Evolution is not only more logical (and "measurable") but also more beautiful, more poetic, more awe-inspiring than creationism.  I suspect the psyche or "soul" will go the same way.  That is, I think the psyche is merely the ego's limited sense of the biological organism (and the basic matter) that gave birth to the ego and which the ego is meant to serve.

Although I am not yet acquainted with all of Giegerich's ideas, the notion that the soul's life is logical is to my mind a simple reflection that the "soul" is natural, biological, material . . . like everything else that is logical is (part of the tangible universe), and from which we derive our sense of logic.

I will do everything I can to reduce and hopefully eliminate abstraction from psychic notions.  Abstraction, to me, is an indication of egoism, of ego-perspective . . . which I feel needs to be reduced to a "margin of error" only and not depended on for "truth".

So, I guess if I could ask Giegerich one question it would be: why ditch biology?  Why now when biology is a field surging forward, innovating, pioneering, pulling various fields together?  Why, in the face of this, should we segregate psychology, making it a kind of more abstract, more removed, quasi-theology? 

Isn't it possible that, should psychology make an attempt to go out and meet biology in the middle of the contemporary intellectual arena, it might be able to help imbue biology with a more "soulful" and deeper perspective on human cognition, instinct, and behavior?  Why must we psychologistic types accept and assume that the scientific rationalistic establishment will just bowl us over and force us to succumb, to "lose our souls" to a reductionism?  Why do we feel so insecure about what we know and have studied or experienced?  Do we really have to slink away?

Maybe we need to stop feeling inferior and simply step into the ring swinging.  Can't this only sharpen our thinking?  To be accountable to data and alternative ideas and arguments?  If we abscond into a more remote specialization, isn't this more likely to encourage the kind of intellectual laziness that already seems to characterize depth psychology?  Should we only be among like selves . . . or should we be wrestling with the Other?  Maybe psychology needs its own Greater Angel in biology and neuroscience.  Who will keep us honest?  Who will break us down when we get arrogant or spark us when we get complacent?

Is there really anything to fear in simply seeking the truth with as open a mind as possible . . . and through the rigor of the scientific method . . . instead of merely resting on intuition's laurels?

This is my current thinking . . . and I would like to hear Giegerich's perspective on this.  In what I've read, he seems to oppose this position . . . but I haven't read anything that truly disposes of the intellectual foundation of such a position.

-Matt
« Last Edit: April 10, 2007, 09:29:01 AM by Matt Koeske »
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Matt Koeske

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Re: Giegerich on "a little light" to preserve in Jungian Psychology
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2007, 09:31:10 AM »
Kafiri et al.,

Please start throwing out some other ideas and reactions to Giegerich's article above.  I will start working on a rough draft of a letter to him, and will weave in any points and questions posted here to the best satisfaction of all.

Also, Kafiri, can you give me a source on that article?  Is it from one of his books, or is it an essay in a specific journal?

Thanks,
Matt
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Matt Koeske

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Giegerich Letter (Rough Draft)
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2007, 12:28:24 PM »
Dear Dr. Giegerich,

I am the co-founder and administrator of a new, English-language Jungian discussion forum called Useless Science (http://www.uselessscience.com/forum/).  We are concerned with the state of both the Jungian community and the perceived stagnation of Jungian thinking . . . and our hope is that our forum will come to serve as a place for people to sound off on and brainstorm the "post-Jungian" future of Analytical Psychology.

Recently, one of our members introduced me to your short article from ________, "A Little Light, to Be Carried Through Night and Storm:
Comments on the State of Jungian Psychology Today."  We have introduced it to the forum (in conjunction with a piece I wrote entitled "Lamentation for the Jungian Community") in the hope of generating discussion on the topic of how Jungians might best address the community and intellectual issues that have become all the more apparent in the 21st century.

I wish to first ask for your permission to reproduce the article.  In fact, I have already posted it "prematurely", but will certainly remove it (with all due apologies) if you do not wish to consent to our use.

The other reason I am writing to you is to ask for your feedback on some of the questions we had.  If you decide to visit the link to the fledgling discussion (http://uselessscience.com/forum/index.php?topic=117.0), you will immediately notice that I had mixed reactions to your prescription . . . and specifically to some of your more philosophical, abstract language.  I am ashamed to come to you like a beggar introducing his poverty with a slap, but I hope you will forgive me (and so beg also for that).  I react first with the gut, and the head only comes slithering along after.

Luckily, the forum member ("Kafiri") who introduced me to your article, is a better man than I and has sought to keep me honest (exposing both my poverty and my hunger).  As you will see if you read the discussion thread, it was he who encouraged me to stop chewing stones and wailing and actually reach out to you with whatever remaining decency I could muster.

From my gut reaction to some of the complexity and abstraction in your writing, I began to analyze and flesh out the contents of this reaction.    It seemed that your desire to use a more philosophical/intellectual language struck me so severely, because Jungian psychology has largely avoided such language . . . instead preferring to fit itself to a more biological or medical linguistic model (which typically seeks an essential clarity, the desire, perhaps positivistic, to address "what is").  I then recalled reading previous statements of yours that seemed to discount the desire of some Jungians to find a more biological or scientific grounding for Jungian thought.  As I (as a layperson casually reading in the field of evolutionary psychology) have found the developments in neuroscience and evolutionary biology made since Jung's death both fascinating and highly compatible with Jung's understanding of the structure of the psyche and the instinctuality of the archetypes, I have been inclined to resist your line of thinking on this matter.

My desire, then, is to better understand your notion (if it is even fair to ascribe this simplification of the idea to you) that Jungian psychology would do well to concern itself primarily (if not entirely) with a "study of the soul" that does not seek to connect to a neurological or biological brain model.  My interpretation of this position is that (to give it the alchemical twist) it calls for a distinct "separation of the spirit from matter" . . . attributing to the psyche an immaterial (and uniquely immaterial) existence.

Not only am I disinclined to advocate the same line of thought, but I am also concerned that this more severe differentiation of the psyche from the brain and the entire organism would only serve (were it widely embraced) to further isolate and specialize an already aloof and perhaps even endangered field, i.e., Analytical Psychology.  Why not, alternatively, continue to pursue the new biological thinking about consciousness toward an eventual coniunctio of psyche/spirit and matter?  Understanding, of course, that evolutionary biology (although a rapidly developing field) does not hold "the answer" which Jungians must adopt . . . but rather points toward a potential intersection between the fields of archetypal psychology and a scientific/materialistic biology that understands human consciousness as rooted in the functions of the brain and body?

In your article, you mention Kerényi's comment that Jung treated the psychic as completely real . . . but I do not see that such a treatment of the psyche must be incompatible with a material or biological co-understanding . . . or that the scientific method of investigation need be suspended for investigations of the psyche to prove fruitful.  The fact that biology and science tend to be "positivistic" and reductive does not, to my mind, require psychology to "render unto Cesar what is Cesar's".  Cannot the scientific understanding of matter be expanded to include the soul?  Can the soul be reinfused into matter?  Might there be a non-reductive solution that can lead to the goal of a "soulful science"?

I thank you sincerely for allowing me to impose on your time, and I hope that I have not offended or overstepped my bounds.  I have a great deal of respect for your attempts to turn Jungian psychology on its ear and help deliver it into the 21st century.  Far too few people have been willing to engage in a dialog about such things (or even acknowledge the many problems Jungians continue to face).  I hope I have managed to, in spite of my ignorance, tweak an area of interest for you, or perhaps convince you that these questions require even more attention than you have already given them (and I know this attention has been substantial).

On behalf of the Useless Science community, I extend this somewhat ragged gesture of desire to know more and its component invitation to commune with us over these issues.

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

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Matt Koeske

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Re: Giegerich on "a little light" to preserve in Jungian Psychology
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2007, 09:30:12 AM »
Quote from: Homer Simpson
Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals!

Except the weasel.

I picked up Giegerich's The Neurosis of Psychology and reread the intro last night.  He explains his stance on biology and psychology pretty clearly.  I don't agree with him, but I see no reason to pester him with such a rudimentary question.  He's written many books and articles explaining his position on this and certainly owes me (a proverbial troglodyte) no further explanation.

So I am putting this letter on hiatus and starting a new thread called "Wrestling with Giegerich", where I will take some quotes about his fundamental notion of psychology and attempt to address it with a logical examination.  I hope others will contribute, as well.

I am used to this intellectual style of argumentation from my academic and poetic "other life" . . . but I just realized last night that logical argumentation is really quite alien in the Jungian universe.  In Jungiana, disputes are usually handled with either kowtowing, browbeating, or name-calling.

I can't recall (off hand) if I've come across any real intellectual arguments on any of the online forums dealing with Jung and his thinking.  And by "argument", I mean a detailed examination of ideas and rhetoric meant to illuminate an issue.  I see argument as synthetic (ideally).  The goal is to create a third thing from two conflicting opinions.

Of course, the synthesis rarely occurs . . . but it's possible.

We'll see how I fare against an intellectual superior.  I'm donning my cape . . . .

-Matt
« Last Edit: April 11, 2007, 11:31:15 AM by Matt Koeske »
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Kafiri

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Re: Giegerich on "a little light" to preserve in Jungian Psychology
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2007, 09:55:07 AM »
Quote from: Matt Koeske


... He's written many books and articles explaining his position on this and certainly owes me (a proverbial troglodyte) any further explanation.

Matt, did you leave something out of this sentence???
"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."
      -Eric Hoffer

Matt Koeske

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Re: Giegerich on "a little light" to preserve in Jungian Psychology
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2007, 11:32:10 AM »
Quote from: Matt Koeske


... He's written many books and articles explaining his position on this and certainly owes me (a proverbial troglodyte) any further explanation.

Matt, did you leave something out of this sentence???

Oops!

Should read "owes me (a proverbial troglodyte) NO further explanation."

Thanks, Kafiri!

-Matt

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

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Sealchan

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Re: Giegerich on "a little light" to preserve in Jungian Psychology
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2007, 03:55:57 PM »
Late to the conversation as usual...

I want to list some of the ideas I have that I would intuitively associate with Giegerich's article above...

Establishing the reality of the soul--or of psyche as I would prefer to put it--is indeed a profound idea.  But the profoundness of it comes as much from the idea in itself as its relationship as a counter-center to modern thought.  The idea introduces a duality where we all tend to prefer a mono-focal point.  Whether on a collective or an individual level, patterns of belief tend to most strongly coallesce around particular "ways of knowing" whether they be creeds, Jung's conscious functions, Gardner's intelligences, etc...  There is an emergent pattern of connecting cognitions that is preferentially selected in a given personal or collective context that lends its own "center of gravity" for truth in that context. 

By instantiating the psyche as an object of objective knowledge, Jung was able to set up a parallel "whole" term to the universe, namely psyche, and use intuition to map contents between.  What he produced is really a kind of scientific mythology or a mythology that is not disproven by science and is, in fact, in relationship with science, a grand coniunctio which allows the worlds of matter and psyche to comfortably interact on a relatively unconscious level. 

Most Jungians are of the kind to employ the more mythic aspects of Jung's thought, to find their own myth (or psychology) in universal patterns.  Jung (and later Neumann and Campbell) have produced masterworks of mythological pattern recognition.  Mapping Jungian terminology to various New Age pursuits is just par for the course in this kind of work.  These are personal mythologizations mistaken as objective, scientific methods (as if they weren't entirely dependent on the subjective character of the individual for their validity).

After treating the mapping of myth to psyche as Jung did in Symbols of Transformation he underwent his "fallow period" which I think was a kind of slow circumambulation to his complementary theory of typology.  You see, typology allows for a recognition of truth as having multiple, irreducible centers of gravity.  Deconstructionism seems to me to be the thinker's way of showing the relativity of truth by unconsciously using multiple truth centers against each other.  But this method seems to tend to reduce truth to meaninglessness. 

My response to this is that if one leans on only one method (a thinker's rational analysis let's say), then this is inevitable.  Whre meaning comes in is the personal (feeling-toned) struggle with the problems (wound) that are personally significant.  That is one has preferentially chosen one way of knowing over its complementary opposite and one then has to grapple with the intense psychological problems that this produces.  This work is Jung's individuation.  Mapping this struggle into a scholarly or artistic or physical works based career is the Work that one does to take truth and make it personally meaningful (have soul).  What I suspect philosophy is on the verge of  recognizing (and this idea in explict in Psychological Types) is how to meaningfully make use of the multimodal basis of truth and that truth is reducible, not finally to one center of gravity, but to a finite set of centers. 

Really reductionism has two contexts: 1) reducibility of layers of phenomenon and 2) reducibility to one mode or way of knowing.  These two types of reduction often get confused because 1) is generally less understood.  We have biology which is an emergent layer (or layers) of physical activity that has arisen from chemistry.  Psychology arises emergently from biology.  A reductionist might take a psychological truth and logically reduce it to a biological activity.  However, first systems thinking, then complex adaptive systems (with its use of computer modeling) offers an alternative...certain concepts at a "higher" level of physical activity are difficult and/or approaching impossible to reduce to particular features of the lower level of physical activity, but we can create metaphors or (as in the case of computer modeling) analogies that demonstrate that logically it is possible that there are non-reducible behaviors in an emergent layer of physical activity.  So in the development of the brain-body through the evolution of biological forms, there has arisen as an emergent and not fully reducible layer of physical activity a psychological or noological layer which demands its own irreducible concepts.  Jung's reality of the soul captures this vertical-layer non-reductionism.

And as I have stated above, I think Jung's typology captures a horizontal-modal non-reductionism...these two ideas are the little light of Jungian thought in my view.

To my thinking, Psychological Types was Jung's pre-contribution to cognitive psychology.  Now Howard Gardiner with his theory of Multiple Intelligences has produced an alternative, more scientifically (and practical-educationally) friendly methodology to continue forward this work of understanding the finite, yet multiple, centers of truth in the individual knower.