Un-thought out metaphysics in analytical psychology: a critique of Jung’s epistemological basis for psychic reality
Robin McCoy Brooks, Seattle, Washington, USA
Abstract: The author investigates the relation of Kant, Schopenhauer and Heidegger to Jung’s attempts to formulate theory regarding the epistemological conundrum of what can and what cannot be known and what must remain uncertain. Jung’s ambivalent use and misuse of Kant’s division of the world into phenomenal and noumenal realms is highlighted in discussion of concepts such as the psychoid archetype which he called ‘esse in anima’ and his use of Schopenhauer’s concept of ‘will’ to justify a transcendence of the psyche/soma divide in a postulation of a ‘psychoid’ realm. Finally, the author describes Jung’s reaction to Heidegger’s theories via his assertion that Heidegger’s ‘pre-given world design’ was an alternate formulation of his concept of the archetypes. An underlying theme of the paper is a critique of Jung’s foundationalism which perpetuates the myth of an isolated mind. This model of understanding subjectivity is briefly contrasted with Heidegger’s ‘fundamental ontology’ which focuses on a non-Cartesian ‘understanding’ of the ‘presencing of being’ in everyday social and historical contexts.
Keywords: epistemology, Heidegger, Kant, psychoid archetype, Schopenhauer
Jung’s epistemology regarding the ‘psyche’ was comprised of a me ́lange of ideas that included misappropriated or misconstrued assimilations of Kant’s philosophical corpus (de Voogd 1984; Shamdasani 2003, pp. 235–37; Bishop 2000; Huskinson 2003). This paper attempts to establish his actual reliance on neo-Kantian philosophical ideas (a foundational ontology) and contrasts them to the hermeneutic/phenomenological stance (a ‘fundamental’ or non- foundational ontology) developed by Heidegger.1 Jung initially disdained Heidegger’s approach but later claimed some prior theoretical connection to it through his concept of the archetype.
1Heidegger used the term ‘fundamental ontology’ to describe the aim of his investigation into the ‘question of the meaning of being’ (1962/1927, H 1, 131). A ‘foundational ontology’ (such as Jung, Kant and Schopenhauer embraced) is one that holds that there is a basis for knowledge and that this basis is derived from a priori postulates. I critique the basic ideas of foundationalism throughout this paper.
This essay will discuss some aspects of Jung’s borrowing of Kantian and neo-Kantian ideas. This will facilitate taking a preliminary step in examining Jung’s partially thought-out metaphysical assertions that focus on what is given, and what can and cannot be known concerning human beings. Secondly, as a natural outcome of the former effort, Jung’s foundationalist approach will, I hope, become more transparent to the reader not familiar with philosophical concepts.
Jung often denied being philosophical. However, in a personal letter written in 1933, he called attention to the ‘epistemological’ basis for his psychological position on esse in anima (soul) in his opening chapter of CW 6; ‘The Problem of Types in the History of Classical and Medieval Thought’ (Letters I, p. 123; 1921/1971a). If epistemology can be loosely described as how we philosophically know what we know, then this paper can be said to investigate key metaphysical aspects of how Jung claimed to know what he knew in his theoretical rendering of the psyche. This involves a close reading of the above- mentioned text as well as two other of his published works to include, ‘On the nature of the psyche’ (1947/1954), and two successive letters Jung wrote in correspondence with Medard Boss (Letters II, pp. xl–xlv, 27 June 1947 & 5 August 1947). These specific works amplified Jung’s use of Kant, Schopenhauer and Heidegger in their formulations of what was essential to human existence, and Jung’s specific use of some of their ideas to bolster his epistemological foundation of the psyche, particularly esse in anima, and the psychoid archetype.
While there are some overlapping epistemological assumptions inherent in Kantian and neo-Kantian (e.g., Schopenhauer) formulations of subjectivity (both grounded in foundationalist ideology), this essay highlights some of the ir- reconcilable conceptual distinctions between the Kantian and Schopenhauerian edifice that Jung exploited. Jung frequently and explicitly referenced Kant, but his references lacked sufficient conceptual fidelity to Kant’s intent, often resulting in misleading or fallacious arguments. His actual theoretical kinship was more closely aligned to and influenced by other threads of thinking derived from Kant’s transcendentalism, generally associated with the philosophical movement known as German Idealism. The central tenets of that perspective included the idea that distinct and oppositional concepts could be mediated and unified into a universalizing totality, that the inaccessible (noumenon, ‘thing in itself’, Unheimlich, unconscious) was indeed a priori, yet apprehendable to human beings through intellectual intuition, and as a consequence, that foundational reality was organically unified and teleologically conceived (Schna ̈delbach 1984; Askay & Farquhar 2006; Bishop 2000). Whereas Kant located the noumenal realm ‘out there’ as the inaccessible and unknowable ‘thing-in-itself’, German Idealists relocated the gap between the absolute (noumenal realm) and relative (phenomenal realm) within the absolute itself (Gabriel & Zˇ izˇek 2009). In other words, the absolute became accessible via the texture of everyday, phenomenal reality. It was to neo-Kantian thought (and particularly to Schopenhauer) that Jung turned to clarify his own position that also located the gap between the phenomenal and noumenal realms within the psyche via esse in anima and the ‘psychoid’ archetype (1921/1971a, 1947/1954).
In the same decade (1920s) that Jung was aligning his psychological justification for the concept of esse in anima with Kant’s logical arguments for the idea of God, a different corpus of philosophical thought was being developed in Heidegger’s work beginning with Being and Time (1962/1927). That philosophy represented a radical departure from Cartesian presuppositions, including those dualisms tacitly adopted in Jung’s foundationalist epistemology (mind/matter, noumena/phenomena, conscious/unconscious, subject/object, in- stinct/psychoid, etc.). Heidegger did not disclaim the existence of such dualities, but contended they reflected abstract theoretical biases that were remote from concrete lived existence. Because of that bias, he intended to set aside a merely theoretical view of reality and instead focus on how things showed up in the everyday stream of life. For Heidegger, we already existed in a world in a pre-cognitive way, or put another way, ontology (being-ness) preceded epistemology (knowing-ness). There was no viable distinction between the existence of conceptual reality (noumenal realm) and how we live our lives in the everyday world (phenomenal realm). Heidegger’s fundamental ontology can be summarized in the phrase ‘phenomenological/hermeneutic ontology’ because his revisioning of phenomenology included recounting how being revealed itself in the phenomena of everyday social contexts and understanding such experience hermeneutically (via description) as ‘text to be interpreted’ (Askay & Farquhar 2006, fn. 18, p. 414).
Fundamental questions about Jung’s analysis of human-ness (and psyche) emerge owing to Jung’s failure to grasp Heidegger’s epistemological position, leaving him struggling with Cartesian and Kantian assumptions that constrained his thinking. Contemporary Jungian theorists have begun to critically challenge these basic theoretical assumptions in Jung’s work. These presuppositions include the validity of a set of a priori cognitions that guide understanding of the phenomenal world, subjectivity viewed through the lens of the myth of the isolated mind with its innate structures, conventions of interpretation that privilege the illusion of the analyst’s epistemological authority, and the universality and essentialism fundamental to Jung’s rendering of the self.
A recent re-examination of some of Jung’s assumptions in this Journal was stimulated by a 1991 (2008) article by Louis Zinkin, ‘Your Self: did you find it or did you make it?’ This paper, posthumously republished, redirected our attention to the limitations of Jung’s notion of a solitary subject, and instead postulated a subject which emerges within social contexts. Is the self ‘found’ (a priori given, transcendent, absolute) or ‘made’ (socially constructed, tempo- rally bound, immanent, relative) with respect to reality (Zˇ izˇek 2006; Zinkin 2008/91)? Roger Brooke utilizes Heidegger’s view of experience as situated in and as a world to indicate a subjectivity that values interiority without dualistically interpreting or limiting the self to matters of mind alone (Brooke 2009b). Warren Colman (2006, 2008) views the self as an ongoing relation of ‘being’ and ‘knowing’ which discovers it (self) within a context that is both cultural (collective) and biological (individual) ‘through a process of its own creation’ (Colman 2006, p. 169). Sue Austin offers another post-Jungian reading of the Jungian subject, which is influenced by thinkers such as Jean Laplanche, Judith Butler and Jung’s earlier dissociationist heritage (Austin 2009). She explores both the idea of a socially constructed self and one that is a product of unconscious processes. Michael Horne posits the emergence of a human being through the amplifications of discontinuous, discrete and discursive ‘self states’ within the multiple discourses that make up our worlds (Horne 2008, 2009). Ladson Hinton (2011) offers a subversive view, which radically disrupts the homogeneity of a totalizing classical Jungian edifice. He challenges Jung’s fundamental yet reifying concept of unus mundus that, to his mind, reduces the universe to a kind of ultimate unity ‘by way of panoramic overviews and dialectical syntheses’ (ibid.). Because of this relative spate of critical academic inquiry into Jung’s epistemological assumptions, the entangled relationship between philosophy and analytical psychology is becoming more transparent (Bishop 1999, 2000, 2008; Brooke 1991; Huskinson 2003; Shamdasani 2003; Donati 2004; Gullatz 2010).
Jung and Kant
Kant’s transcendental philosophy was contained within a foundationalist ‘problematic’2 . Fundamental to foundationalism is the basic belief that there was a basis for knowledge and that this basis was derived from a priori postulates. Hence, a priori meaning was indubitable, infallible, and universally known without reference to historical or contemporary contexts (Horne 2008). Such knowledge tends to provide a kind of tacit certainty and permanence that at the same time overshadows particular, impermanent and provisional realities.
2Michael Horne uses this term to depict the ‘ideological presuppositions in which a particular problem is formulated and discussed’ (Horne 2008, p. 669).
It was to Kant’s doctrine of the phenomenal (known) and noumenal (unknown) realms that Jung turned to ground his theorizing about the psyche. The noumenon, according to Kant, was a name given to a thing viewed as a ‘transcendent’ object (‘thing in itself’ and not a representation of an object), and one that could never be sensually experienced or known (Kant 2007/1781, B 295–315).3 Phenomena, in contrast, were a posteriori objects of knowledge experienced through the senses and manifested not, as the ‘thing in itself’ but as a representation of it (ibid). Our knowledge or understanding of the objects we experienced was nevertheless a priori (pre-existing knowledge independent of experience) because it was cognized through the universal ‘categories’, an idea Kant borrowed from Aristotle (ibid., B 105). Kant’s categories were general, formal or structural concepts (such as substance, time, space, necessity and causality) which applied to the things we intuited because ‘only through
3This and further citations from Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason are of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant, edited and translated by Paul Guyer and Allen Wood (2007). This text contains two editions, the first published in 1781 with pagination noted as ‘A’ and the second edition published in 1789, with pagination denoted as ‘B’.
4Bishop (2000 pp. 190–200) makes the point that for Kant, intellectual intuition (as opposed to empirical intuition) was a form of knowledge that could only be obtained by God and not by persons. Jung, in a non-Kantian spirit, however postulated that the unconscious could be experienced through such intuition that he called ‘absolute knowledge’ (Jung 1952, para. 931). Bishop (2000) and Huskinson (2003) make separate yet distinct arguments regarding Jung’s conflation of the Kantian category/concept with the Kantian ‘Idea’.
In this attempt to establish a scientific metaphysics regarding what could be known and what the limits of ordinary experience were, Kant fur- ther distinguished the principles of transcendence, transcendentalism and immanence (Kant (2007/1781, B 352–53). What was transcendent was beyond experience and unknowable. Transcendental knowledge referred to concepts which were a priori given and also not related to experience but which everyone already has (i.e., a priori), and immanent reality was contained within sensual (empirical) experience in the everyday world. Therefore, knowledge that was obtained experientially through the senses was both a posteriori and immanent yet, like transcendental knowledge, relied on a priori cognition (via the categories) as a condition of understanding the phenomenal world. Immanent knowledge was potentially accessible, i.e., knowledge that you might not have now, but may have in the future. Schopenhauer, Jung and Heidegger extended Kant’s definition of immanence to include transcendent knowledge (or that which cannot be known), but each in distinct ways with provisos, all acknowledging a limit of what could be known, although with a more or less porous line between what could be apprehended, and what was simply out of bounds.
While Jung claimed an allegiance to the epistemological limitations posed by Kant’s transcendentalism, he contradicted himself by his theoretical attempts to replace religion with knowledge of the religious (psychological) symbols, which provide indications of the ‘archetype as such’ (Jung 1947/1954, para. 417; Bishop 2000, pp. 148–49), therefore implying that knowledge of the ‘thing in itself’ (‘as such’) is implicitly possible. For Jung, meaning pre-existed in principle (a transcendental idea), was embedded in the collective unconscious and was made accessible via the instincts through image and ideas (1947/1954). The ‘archetype as such’ was a transcendent feature of Jung’s later formulation of the ‘psychoid’ factor (ibid.). I will continue to elaborate on Jung’s tendency to conflate transcendental, transcendent and immanent principles throughout.
Jung relied on Kant’s ‘negative borderline or boundary concept’, which he regarded as similar to Kant’s thing in itself , to argue the efficacy of key concepts such as the self, the collective unconscious, and the psychoid archetype and the world soul (Jung 1936, para. 247; Letters I, p. 91; Letters II, p. 258; 1947/1954, 1952). Kant stated; ‘The concept of the noumenon is therefore merely a boundary concept, in order to limit the pretension of sensibility, and therefore only of negative use (Kant 2007/1781, B 310–11). By designating his concept of the noumenon as a ‘boundary concept’, Kant introduced what he called an ‘empty space’, or gap between the two concepts, which was neither purely noumena (negative) nor phenomena (positive), or jointly both (2005/1783 [4, 354]). In Prolegomena, he elaborated on his notion of the boundary that he had introduced in his first Critique [of Pure Reason]:
‘that reason, through all its a priori principles, never teaches us about anything more than objects of possible experience alone, and of these, nothing more than what can be cognized in experience’; but this limitation does not prevent reason from carrying us up to the objective boundary of experience—namely, to the relation to something that cannot itself be an object of experience, but which must nonetheless be the highest ground of all experience—without, however, teaching us anything about this ground in itself, but only in relation to reason’s own complete use in the field of possible experience, as directed to the highest ends.
(ibid., [4, 361–4]; Kant’s bold)
By declaring the self to be a ‘borderline’ concept, Jung delimited what had in the Kantian sense been an external and inaccessible entity (Letters II, p. 258; Kant 2007/1781, B 311–12). The self (as an unknown ‘archetype as such’) was now accessible to human understanding via the interpretation of the spontaneous appearances of the psychoid archetypes (1947/1954). Jung used the inexactness of Kant’s ‘borderline’ distinction to legitimize his own field of inquiry regarding the unconscious, often reinterpreting Kant’s original intent (the noumena as unknowable) for his own purposes (Letters I, p. 91). The following review of Jung’s epistemological basis for esse in anima will further reveal Jung’s questionable use of Kant’s boundary concept.
Epistemological issues regarding ‘esse in anima’
In the introductory section of Psychological Types [‘The type problem in classical and medieval thought’] (Jung 1921/1971a), Jung introduced his concept of esse in anima (soul) as having the function of establishing psychic reality in its own right, thus establishing an empirical validity for psychic phenomena. A century earlier, Kant had developed a foundation for a moral philosophy, which would run through all three of his critiques. This focused on the practical application of reason as a justification for metaphysical beliefs about God, freedom and immortality of the human soul. The capacity to reflect on one’s mental states could free us from living in the uninformed grip of our impulses, thus one could live a ‘moral’ life. Jung’s solution to the ‘problem of the relationship of morality and religion’ was to relocate the unknown from the abstraction of the Kantian a priori (i.e., where God was perceived as an Idea or regulative principle), to one that affects the individual via the psychological symbol generated within the individual via ‘esse in anima’ and in later writings, the psychoid (Bishop 2000, pp. 148–9; Huskinson 2003, pp. 80– 81). To do so, he borrowed aspects of the Kantian formula for his own purposes by finding philosophical justification for the psychological validity of the soul from Kant’s The Critique of Practical Reason (1956/1788), which introduced God as a postulate of practical reason. Jung did not directly equate the soul with Kant’s postulate of the God-idea, but used it as an example to amplify his own thinking about the soul in such a manner that Kant would have viewed as illegitimate. Jung fell into trouble by using a philosophical framework to justify his ‘psychological’ explanation of existence in several ways. First, he used Kant’s postulates and reasoning (including a misappropriation of Kant’s terms) out of their intended contexts and second, in so doing problematically extended his arguments to include his own psychological construct of psychic reality, the former ostensibly giving validity to the latter. The effect unfortunately is that Jung’s reductionistic account of Kant’s rational arguments in support of the existence of God didn’t convincingly transfer over into his own arguments in support of the existence of esse in anima and created a duplicitous alliance between the two disciplines. Bishop summarizes Jung’s misconstruction of Kant’s argument thus: ‘Clearly, this is a very different version of the ontological argument from the one Kant was keen to refute, for rather than arguing from the logical idea of God to his existence, it argues from the universality of the psychological idea of God’ (Bishop 2000, p. 153). Stephanie de Voogd has noted on this point that ‘if esse in anima is what Jung says it is in Jungian psychology, then it cannot be what Jung says it is in Kantian philosophy’(1984, p. 223). Let us follow how he does this.
Jung thought that he had established, through Kant’s ‘clear division’ between ‘esse in intellectu’ (universals having their ‘being in the intellect’, i.e., outside or prior to real things) and esse in re (or universals having their being ‘in the thing’ [or object]), a third unifying reality, to which he added his thesis that being resides in the soul, or ‘esse in anima’ (Jung 1921/71a, paras. 63–67, 77– 79; translation by Wolfgang Giegerich, personal communication 9/2009).5 In The Critique of Practical Reason, Kant defended the speculative metaphysical ideas of the belief in God, freedom and immortality by claiming that without them, moral experience would be impossible (Kant 1956/1788, K 107– 48).6 However, he showed that these metaphysical dogmas could not be known to be true on grounds of theoretical knowledge (pure reason) and indeed exposed the fallacies and unattainability of such ‘ideal’ truth claims. Kant explored the contradictions in pure practical reason, allowing Jung room to find this text supportive of his claims regarding the psychological and empirical validity of the psyche. Within the postulates of ‘the highest good’ conjoined with a proportionate ‘happiness’, Kant argued that the highest good could not be made real unless an eternal God existed (Kant 1956/1788, K 124–25). The fact of ‘pure reason’ was shown through the resolution of the antinomy (opposing ideas), into which practical reason itself falls. For example, Kant argued that either moral law was invalid because it commands us to do the impossible, or that that highest good was possible because God existed. He, therefore concluded that our immortal soul existed, contingent and arbitrary but a priori, based on reason itself and thus necessary (ibid., K 122). We were, therefore, under a moral necessity, which Kant ascribed to the reality of God, to strive for higher goodness, although not in the form of a claim to metaphysical knowledge but as an act of ‘rational faith’ (ibid., K 126–27).
5Bishop elaborates on this point of the ‘third’ and what later in the same essay Jung referred to as ‘fantasy’.
6Pagination for this text follows Kant’s throughout this essay and is noted as ‘K’. (e.g., K 35).
Kant did not abandon his postulates of pure reason by his inclusion and account of practical reason in The Critique of Practical Reason (recall, the noumenal and phenomenal realms were established in The Critique of Pure Reason). Nor did he intend to create a dichotomy between the doctrines. His intention was to show, I think, that pure reason could be practical and must be practical if morality is not a fantasy. How did Jung then use Kant’s ‘transitional’ employment of his postulate of the God-concept to substantiate his own ideas? Let us return to Jung:
The esse in anima is a psychological fact… The datum that is called ‘God’ and is formulated as the ‘highest good’ signifies, as the term itself shows, the supreme psychic value. In other words, it is a concept upon which is conferred, or is actually endowed with, the highest and most general significance in determining our thoughts and actions. In the language of analytical psychology, the God-concept coincides with the particular ideational complex which, in accordance with the foregoing definition, concentrates in itself the maximum amount of libido, or psychic energy.
(Jung 1921/1971a, para. 67)
Jung did not equate psychic energy, a living reality, with Kant’s God postulate. The possibility of the highest good belonged to a universal and most powerful ‘particular ideational complex’, which he associated with the God-idea (‘the God concept coincides. . .’). Therefore, as Kant had argued that the highest good could not be made real unless an eternal God existed, Jung was arguing that the highest soul value (God) was an always and already existing reality, but real in anima, not in intellectu nor in re (Wolfgang Giegerich 2009, personal commu- nication). By locating being within the soul (a third unifying reality between, mind and matter), Jung was anticipating his later theorizing which would locate the psychoid in the gap between archetype and instinct (1947/1954). Jung’s psychoid archetype would become the synchronistic emissary between world soul and the individual (ibid., 1952). He would continue to use Kant’s boundary concept, as an authorizing agent to conceptually authenticate the validity of the self in such a manner that Kant would have viewed as illegitimate.
Schopenhauer and Jung
It is critical to note in Jung’s theoretical authorizations of Kant and Schopenhauer that the two philosophers did not conceptually agree on the notion of a noumenon. A successor to Kant, Schopenhauer adapted the Kantian division between phenomena, noumena, and causality to his own purposes. Unlike Kant, Schopenhauer posited that the ‘Will’ (thing-in- itself/id/unconscious) manifested in the ‘whole body’ (Schopenhauer (1958/ 1819, II, pp. 191–200). He identified the body with the ‘Will’ and through the sensual experiences of the body he argued, we could interpret what had, through Kant, been incommensurable and ineffable (Schopenhauer 1969/1819, I, p. 100). The ‘Will’, as transcendent, was the underlying transcendental condition for the possibility of any experience and/or knowledge whatsoever. Therefore, the ‘Will’ preceded and engaged our a priori constructs (in Kantian terms, the ‘categories’) as a governing principle of phenomenal experience. In Schopenhauer’s view, this permitted what had been deemed inaccessible in Kant’s metaphysics to now become approachable in ‘relation to phenomena’ (Schopenhauer 1958/1819, II, pp. 178–84). For both Jung and Schopenhauer, the ‘Will’, or noumenon was a priori, unconscious, and grounded in the body through the instincts (for Jung, via the psychoid archetype), and therefore accessible for comprehension through the objects of experience.
‘Psychoid archetype’7 and the Archimedean point
7Jung’s use of the term ‘psychoid archetype’ emerged in Letters II, pp. 22 and 437 from his reflections on his 1947/1954 essay.
In 1946, Jung published an essay that presented his final reconceptualization of the archetype (‘On the nature of the psyche’, 1947/54), after having first introduced the term in 1919 (Jung 1919). Here, he made several significant ad- vancements that clearly incorporated Kantian and neo-Kantian epistemologies. First, in broadening his view of the noumenal and phenomenological nature of the archetype, Jung established a circular ‘psychic scale’ drawing on the analogy of an electromagnetic spectrum that contained both transcendent (psychoid factor and archetype as such) and transcendental phenomena (via instinctual images–archetypal images) (1947/1954, paras. 367, 380, 414–20). Within this spectrum, he firmly differentiated between psychic and non-psychic phenomena, proclaiming twice that he no longer conceived the archetype to be ‘only psychic’ (ibid., paras. 419–20, 440). Jung was not clear as to why he viewed images as ‘transcendental’ or the psychoid as ‘transcendent’. He attributed his claim about the non-psychic aspect of the archetypes to the synchronistic phenomena associated with ‘the activity of unconscious operators’ (ibid., para. 440).
Secondly, Jung simultaneously and just as firmly collapsed what had been for Kant the irreducible gap between the noumenal and phenomenal realms by relocating the archetype’s ‘true nature’ within the absolute itself via the ‘psychoid’ (ibid., para. 420). Jung’s ‘postulate’8 of the psychoid archetype was another conceptual misappropriation of Kant’s ‘boundary concept (i.e., that space or gap between the purely noumena and phenomena that was neither or jointly both). Jung located the psychoid effect of the archetype within the body via the instincts and extended it as a ‘quasi’, or non-psychic bridge between the instinctual and the psychic poles (ibid., paras. 380, 405, 417, 420). With the psychoid concept, Jung purported to fill in the gap between what could and what could not be known by suggesting that the noumenal might be phenomenal and that the phenomena of synchronicity were ‘grounds for such a conclusion’ (ibid., para. 440). To help his reader grasp the concept of a psyche/soma spectrum that was bridged by the psychoid, Jung gave us an ‘illustrative hint’ in the unifying symbolic image of the tail-eating Uroborus (ibid., para. 416).
8In a letter in 1951, Jung refers to the psychoid archetype as a ‘mere model or postulate’ (Letters II, p. 22).
Lastly, Jung reversed his thinking about whether psychology had an Archimedean point or not (ibid., paras. 421, 437). Jung furthermore appeared to be correlating the ‘world soul’ or unus mundus with the Archimedean point and claiming that the psychoid archetype (mundus archetypus) provided both a route to ‘universal truth’ via archetypal images and was its bridge to matter, both of which manifested via synchronicity (ibid., paras. 380, 388, 393, 437- 40; Stevens 2006 pp. 87–90; Hinton 2011). He would later explicate this idea in his essay on synchronicity (1952, paras. 840, 931; Bishop 2000, p. 54). These three points will be further elaborated on below.
The circular psychic scale
By introducing the concept of the ‘quasi-psychic’ ‘psychoid’ for the first time in his writings, Jung was claiming that he no longer viewed the archetype to be ‘entirely’ psychic (ibid., paras. 419–21, 440). He was most likely referring to the transcendent quasi-psychic status of the psychoid factor, and how such processes were linked to the instinct and archetype polarity (1947/1954, paras. 406–08). Of the psychoid, Jung thus stated:
Firstly, I use it as an adjective, not as a noun; secondly, no psychic quality in the proper sense of the word is implied, but only ‘quasi-psychic’ one such as the reflex-processes possess; and…it is meant to distinguish a category of events from merely vitalistic phenomena on the one hand and from specifically psychic processes on the other.
(ibid., para. 368)
In the formulation of a ‘psychic scale’ (ibid., para. 408), Jung was making a critical Kantian-like distinction between the ‘archetypal image’ (representations and ideas/ transcendental) and the ‘archetype as such’ (irrepresentable/ transcen- dent), describing the latter as ‘psychoid’ and transcendent. Of the transcendent nature of the ‘archetype as such’ Jung stated:
The archetype as such is a psychoid factor that belongs, as it were, to the invisible, ultra-violet end of the psychic spectrum …The real nature of the archetype is not capable of being made conscious, … it is transcendent, on which account I call it psychoid. Moreover every archetype, when represented to the mind, is already conscious and therefore differs to an indeterminable extent from that which caused the representation.
(ibid., para. 417)
The transcendent nature of the archetype was made known through instinctual images ‘partly like a hidden meaning immanent in the instincts’ (ibid., para. 427). Of this phenomenon, Jung stated:
Where instinct predominates, psychoid processes set in which pertain to the sphere of the unconscious as elements incapable of consciousness. The psychoid process is not the unconscious as such, for this has a far greater extension. Apart from psychoid processes, there are in the unconscious ideas and volitional acts, hence something akin to conscious processes; but in the instinctual sphere these phenomena retire so far into the background that the term ‘psychoid’ is probably justified.
(ibid., para. 380)
Jung did not equate the psychoid process to the unconscious as such but equated it to the archetype as such, both being incapable of consciousness and ‘irrepresentable’ and both transcendent (ibid., 417). Yet in the next paragraph, he characterized the irrepresentable factors to be ‘transcendental’ and as ‘two different aspects of the same thing’ (ibid., para. 418). By designating the archetype as a ‘psychoid factor’, he was extending his model of the archetype by conflating the newly postulated quasi-psychic transcendent factors (via the psychic bridge) with the psychic/unconscious a priori transcendental factors. Jung was developing a foundation for a model of psychic reality that contained the complementary realms of psyche and matter as one unitary reality. This conceptual development can be best philosophically understood from a Schopenhauerian perspective. Schopenhauer’s transcendent ‘will’ formed the underlying condition for the possibility of any experience of knowledge and engaged with our a priori constructs (i.e., Kant’s categories) as governing principles of phenomenal experience. What had been unknowable with Kant, could now be knowable through the senses via the body (will) with Schopenhauer. Both Schopenhauer and Jung maintained that the unknowable could nevertheless be known through its effect on consciousness.9 In other words, Jung was considering the archetype to be both a psychic ‘will’-like thing-in itself (psychoid/transcendent) and a category (transcendental) (Bishop 2000, p. 187; Huskinson 2004, pp. 76–9).
9>Personal conversation, Warren Colman (2011).
Consequently, he was creating his own categories via the archetypes and in his future collaborations with Pauli (to which he alluded) would attempt to sup- plement the category of causality with the principle of synchronicity (Letters II, pp. 258–9, 318, 1952). This is another example of Jung’s out-of-context use of a philosophical postulate (the Kantian category) which he then misleadingly equates with the conceptual architecture of analytical psychology.
Jung located this a priori unknown at the organic basis of the psychic spectrum in the ‘lower reaches’ of the psyche, beginning at the point where the psyche emancipated itself from the compulsive force of an instinct (ibid., paras. 376–80). He considered the instinctual realm to include a priori biological patterns of behaviour, ‘immanently’ conceived in the structure of the organism (ibid., paras. 398, 427). These patterns acted as regulators and stimulators of creative fantasy activity that also served as transformers of instinctual images, a precursor of consciousness and analytic interpretation (ibid., paras. 399–405). Jung’s grounding of the psychoid archetype in the body via the instincts was a Schopenhauerian-like extension similar to his earlier conceptual location of being within esse in anima (the highest soul value), and not out there, as Kant had implied.
World soul as Archimedean point
Jung’s model of psychic reality progressed to include a more explicitly articulated unitary view of existence in his essay ‘On the nature of the psyche’ and he wrestled with the possibility for the existence of an Archimedean point (1947/1954, paras. 421, 437) from which the psyche could observe itself. In 1942, he stated ‘you would not be able to understand what you suffer unless there was that Archimedean point outside, the objective standpoint of the self, from which the ego can be seen as a phenomenon’. In this statement, Jung associated such a point of psychic reference with the self (e.g., 1942/1954, para. 428). Along this line, in ‘On the nature of the psyche’, he stated in para. 421 that psychology lacked the ‘immense advantage of an Archimedean point such as physics enjoys’. However in para. 437, he appeared to reverse his thinking by stating:
we need an Archimedean point which alone makes a judgment possible. This can only be the nonpsychic, for, as a living phenomenon, the psychic lies embedded in something that appears to be of a nonpsychic nature.
(ibid., para. 437; bold added)
He further elaborated several paragraphs later:
the reality underlying the unconscious effects [which have an organizing influence on the contents of consciousness] includes the observing subject and is therefore constituted in a way that we cannot conceive. It is, at one and the same time, absolute subjectivity and universal truth, for in principle it can be shown to be present everywhere, which certainly cannot be said of conscious contents of a personalistic nature.
(ibid., para. 439; bold in original)
In these critical paragraphs, Jung was essentially linking the non-psychic with transcendence (‘absolute’, endowed with ‘universal truth’, i.e. noumenal realm) in an attempt to correlate an Archimedean point to an ‘observing subject’, yet another promiscuous misappropriation of Kant’s boundary concept. Kant allowed for universal categories (cognized through the senses) but not for an ‘absolute subjectivity’ that was located ‘everywhere’, particularly in the phenomenal realm.
Jung’s collaborations with physicist Wolfgang Pauli were cited in his attempt to bridge his ‘epistemological claims with the science of the time (ibid., para. 308). He sought scientific justification for the borderline (concept) relationship between the ‘contradictory’ non-psychic/psychic phenomena em- bedded in the instincts via the psychoid archetype.10 Or stated another way, the ‘organizing influences’ of the psychoid archetype (as such) were dynamically transformed into images or ideas, seemingly two different (transcendent and transcendental) ways of viewing the same ‘objective reality’. Jung clarified this point in a letter he wrote in 1951; ‘This remarkable effect [the gripping effect of the archetype] points to the psychoid and essentially transcendental nature of the archetype as an arranger of psychic forms inside and outside the psyche’ (Letters II, p.22; my italics). In other writings, Jung had designated the self as the ‘ordering and unifying centre of the total psyche’, so ‘organizing’ and ‘arranging’ activities of the psychoid archetype seem analogous to self-productions (1936, para. 44; 1951, para. 318). Was the psychoid archetype the source of these self-like productions or the communicating vehicle of them? Fortunately, in a letter written in 1955, Jung gave us a retrospectively clarifying clue embedded in his discussion about the synchronistic feature of the psychoid (Letters II, pp. 258–59). The ‘empty’ centre, which he equated to God, was ‘certainly not identical with the archetypes but [was] the thing the archetype point[ed] to’ (Letters II, p. 258, my brackets). The archetypes were ‘self-constellating’ and by this, Jung inferred were not the same as the self but were emanations from the self, or ‘God-Image’ (ibid., p. 259–60).11
10In a lengthy footnote, Jung inserted the supporting cited opinion of Pauli regarding the ‘organizing influences’ of ‘objective reality’ on the contents of consciousness (ibid., p. 229,fn. 130).
11Jung was clear that he was not conflating God with the self, but was speaking of ‘“God- image”and not of God’ (p. 260).
Returning to our central text (On the nature of the psyche), a few paragraphs later, Jung obliquely elaborated on what appeared to be a self-like postulate that he assigned to the ‘observing subject’:
Investigation of these effects [the organizing influence on the contents of consciousness] yields the singular fact that they proceed from an unconscious i.e., objective, reality which behaves at the same time like a subjective one—in other words, like a consciousness. Hence, the reality underlying the unconscious effects includes the observing subject and is therefore constituted in a way that we cannot conceive. It is, at one and same time, absolute subjectivity and universal truth, for in principle it can be shown to be present everywhere, which certainly cannot be said of conscious contents of a personalistic nature. . ..The qualitatively rather then quantitatively definable units with which the unconscious works, namely the archetypes, therefore have a nature that cannot with certainty be designated as psychic.
(1947/54, para. 439; bold in original)
Jung had constructed a unitary reality that was the ground of all phenomena (collective unconscious), beneath the workings of the archetypes (‘definable units’) whose centre (‘observing subject’) he implied, was the ‘world soul’, ‘anima mundi’, or ‘spirit of God’ (1947/1954, paras. 388, 393). In a letter in 1931, he had already, citing Kant, designated the collective unconscious as a ‘borderline concept’ and had questioned its inexperienceability, a foreshad- owing of his present claims that allowed for a correspondence between transcendent and immanent realities (Letters I, p. 91).
Elsewhere in the essay, he referenced a ‘supraordinate authority, something like a consciousness of itself’ (1947/1954, para. 380). By using the term ‘supraordinance’, Jung was not referring to a new idea so much as giving expression to an existing idea he had already established in his ongoing formulations of the self where this term is also applied (1921/1971b, para. 790; 1928, para. 274; 1941, para. 315; 1951/1968, para. 264). In 1952, Jung again referred to the world soul as the unifying ground from which synchronistic phenomena had a direct connection to the psychoid archetype (1952, paras. 912, 931). In 1955–6, he referred to synchronicity as the parapsychological equivalent of ‘unus mundus’ (one world) (1955/1956, para. 662). The ‘observing subject’ was clearly not referring to a ‘personalistic’ ego consciousness as the term Archimedean point might have initially suggested, but to the world soul centred within unus mundus (Stevens 2006, pp. 87–90; Hinton 2011; Bishop 2000, p. 54).
Jung’s foundationalist presuppositions embedded in the central tenets of German Idealism were prevalent in his formulation of the structures of the psyche. His transcendent world soul formed the underlying condition for the possibility of the emergence of transcendental archetypes without necessarily being a part of the Kantian categories. With the theoretical inclusion of the psychoid archetype in his reformulation of the archetype model, he now extended a non-psychic bridge between the world soul to matter itself, yet another elaboration of his ill-conceived use of Kant’s borderline concept. Even though Jung appeared to be liberally extending Kant’s boundary concept into neo-Kantian translations of the psyche (Schopenhauer), he generally did not make that claim or for the most part cite the epistemological sources. It is not clear if his misuse of Kant was of creative intent, or merely a product of his misunderstanding. Regardless, the credibility of his epistemological justifications for his model of the psyche does come under question because of his misuse of these foundational tenets of Kant’s critical philosophy.
Jung’s encounter with Heidegger through Medard Boss
This final section briefly highlights the foundationalist tendencies of Jung’s thought by contrasting it with Heidegger’s fundamental ontology via corre- spondence with Medard Boss. Because of the breadth of Heidegger’s work, only a small—but crucial—glimpse of these contrasts can be offered here. However, because these contemporaries were giants of twentieth century thought, it seems crucial to give attention to some of their similar and opposing ideas.
In his letters to Medard Boss, written in June and August of 1947, Jung briefly specified his objections to ‘existential’ philosophy in a way that reflected a misunderstanding of its basic tenets (Letters II, pp. xl-xlv). It is important to keep in mind that at the time of this letter, he had just formulated his ‘psychoid factor’ while Boss was entering into an extended relationship with Heidegger that would dramatically deepen his analytical perspectives.12Jung reiterated that he was ‘no philosopher’ and requested help in understanding Boss’s basic terminology (ibid.) having received a copy of Boss’s inaugural dissertation and text (Psychoanalysis and Daseinsanalysis, 1963). He asserted that the archetype was world related (misunderstood by Boss, he thought) and was ‘exactly what Heidegger had meant in his term vorgegebener Weltentwurf , which can be loosely translated as pre-given world design or projection of the world (Heidegger 1962/1927, H 184–85).13 Jung reminded Boss that he had more than once ‘made a connection between the subject and the world’ by highlighting the special significance of the ‘self [as totality] as opposed to the purely subjectivistic ego’ (Jung, Letters II, p. xli). For Jung, everyday experience was grounded in an underlying a priori/transcendent world he called the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious contained the ‘whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution’ made known to the individual through the immanent experience of archetypal phenomena (1927/1931, para. 342). The archetypes appeared to be the emissaries of an a priori meaning which was self—or world soul—produced, that is, by a self that Jung considered a centre to the psyche’s totality and embraced both conscious and unconscious realities (1921/1971b, para. 789).
12In the summer of 1947, Boss’s correspondence, through a letter to Heidegger, began their more than two-decade dialogue between philosophy and psychoanalysis. Heidegger’s first letter to Boss (in response to Boss) is dated August 3, 1947.
13>Wolfgang Giegerich (personal conversation, 2009) offers this translation in contrast to the editors of Jung’s letters, who translated vorgegebener Weltentwurf to mean ‘pre-given world pattern’.
Heidegger held, in contrast, that there was no grounding for experience as Dasein did not have itself as its own basis.14 He believed that it was through his concept of the ‘clearing’ (Lichtung) that the ontological dimension of humans could be understood, and that the clearing was a primal phenomenon (Heidegger 2001/1987, H 13, 188, 223, 232).15 Hence, there was nothing behind or underlying the clearing, unlike the Kantian ‘noumenal’ realm, which existed behind the phenomenal world. Beings were not separated from one another in the clearing and could only be apprehended through self- interpretation from which understanding could arise. What had heretofore been undisclosed could now be disclosed through such interpretation (Heidegger 2001/1987, H 186–87; 1962/27, H 153–166)16. Distortions and concealments became unconcealed or stripped away. Necessary to the clearing was being’s projection into the world and into the possibility of ‘making-present’ what had heretofore been undisclosed. Dasein had then ‘been thrown [or projected] into the world’ (Heidegger 1962/27, H 145–48) by virtue of its own ‘clearing’ [Gelichteheit] (Heidegger 2001/1987, H 4).
14‘Dasein’ is an everyday word in the German language meaning existence. Heidegger used it as a technical term to refer to existence in everyday life or ‘being-in-the-world’ (2001/27, H 4).
15ee 1962/1927, pp. 272, 286, 292). Total clarity or transparency in the clearing can never be achieved, as noted in Heidegger’s statement; ‘Dasein is equiprimordially both in the truth and in untruth’ (p. 223).
16>The translators of Zollikon Seminars (2001/1987, pp. 16n, 140n) identify the basic relations among ‘understanding’, ‘interpretation’ and ‘assertion’ elaborated on in Being and Time (1962/27). The cited passages above also refer to Heidegger’s ‘hermeneutical circle’, another vehicle of explicating the back and forth, implicit and explicit ‘understanding’ between the reciprocal relation between the interpreter and that which is interpreted and how the structure of finite temporality underlies such understanding.
Jung was equating the primordiality of the psyche (from which the archetypes spontaneously emerged, the self being a central archetype) to Heidegger’s con- cept of Dasein’s world relatedness. He clearly did not understand Heidegger’s concept of the clearing and his shift to phenomena and away from noumena. Jung’s view of the psyche’s world-relatedness was contained within a neo- Kantian epistemology from which the universal and the relative were divided and cognized through a priori principles in contrast to Heidegger’s existence (Dasein) which was interpersonally and socially constituted and contextualized in the phenomena of everyday temporal reality. For Heidegger, meaning did not exist in principle. It was ‘disclosed’ through a process of ‘Gelassenheit’, of openness to being, and was not foundational. Jung’s foundationalist orientation relied on the notion of a priori meaning, which was lodged in the archetype and contained in the collective unconscious.
Although Heidegger’s clearing had a transcendent quality (where being was brought forth from nothingness—the noumenal realm), he held that Kant’s ontological basis for the noumenon was actually ontology of being that became objectified (Heidegger 2001/1987, H 168). It is also likely that Heidegger would have viewed Jung’s claims regarding the ‘objective psyche’ to be similar objectifications (e.g., what Jung cited as ‘psychic facts’) of immanent realities stemming from his foundationalist problematic. In the end, this bound him to the split Cartesian world of the knower/known. Further evidence for this argument can be found in Jung’s ‘Archimedean point’, from which he implied that the non-psychic (via the psychoid archetype not the conscious ego) could empirically observe the psychic via the outputs of the psychoid archetype. For Heidegger, there was no outside vantage point from which we can obtain an objective presuppositionless view of reality. His emphasis was on the study of the meaning of being as it is ‘unveiled’ or ‘disclosed’ through the study of phenomena without such foundations.
The claim Jung made to Boss was that the primordiality of the psyche was the same as Heidegger’s existential being-in-the-world as the way of relating to objects. While in their treatises both thinkers viewed the world as a kind of organic unifying whole from which existence emerged, it cannot be said that Jung’s psychic world was exactly what Heidegger meant by pre-given world pattern. Originally, both thinkers shared a similar quest. Following the writing of Being and Time Heidegger hoped to elaborate on the nature of the arche (founding principles) of Western thought through the study of pre-Socratic phi- losophy which he thought contained the unifying thread of meaning not found in later ‘metaphysics’ beginning with Platonic forms (Guignon 1983). In his later work, he shifted away from a ‘Dasein’ centred ontology, and focused more on the phenomenology of the ‘presencing’ of being as opposed to being (Dasein) itself (Sheehan 2001) and more or less eschewed foundational principles.
Jung believed that he had indeed discovered a solution to the question about the nature of the arche. That is, he held that he had found the typos (pattern) of the arche and that the ‘archetypes’ were the foundational principles of being. The archetypes could be described and known as psychoid founding principles. The psychoid realm is the unus mundus, where the inter-relationship of being and beings could potentially be known through synchronicity. One can see that early Heidegger and Jung (throughout his lifetime) shared a preoccupation with finding the hidden meaning of being or self (respectively) but with opposing outcomes.17
17I am grateful to Ladson Hinton for his insights in the formulation of this paragraph.
I am grateful to Ladson Hinton, Michael Horne and Richard Askay for their fundamental support throughout this effort. I am further indebted to Warren Colman and the anonymous peer reviewers whose comments strengthened the final outcome.
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