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Jung's concept of the archetype


Gord Barentsen
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My apologies to everyone here - in attempting to hive off our discussion of the archetype as a separate forums topic I seem to have obliterated it.  F for FAIL for me :BangHead1:

Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to create a separate discussion topic for the concept of the archetype.  So, to recap briefly: @Graham Barnett was asking how it was possible to delineate archetypes if, as Jung says at some point, they all run into each other.  My pre-fail response was that I think Jung would say that, apropos of his later, more mature thinking on the archetype, that yes, they are hypotheses, but they also have some sort of foothold in what he at one point calls the "organic-material substrate."

This is to say that they are forces which have effects in the natural world, and in this phase of Jung's thinking his favourite analogy for the archetype is that of the "axial system" of a crystal growing in bittern.  Just as a crystal self-organises around a string or creates an axial system around which it structures symmetrical crystals in an orderly fashion, so the archetype has a propensity to repeat itself (i.e. its pattern of experience), so while they run together, as the theory goes there is some way to discern some sort of an energic "core" to an archetype.

Whether or not this can be "scientifically" measured is perhaps another matter entirely - does it depend on what we mean by "science"?

Again, my apolgies for the admin-fail!

When a book and a head collide and a hollow sound is heard, must it always have come from the book? -- Lichtenberg

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hope you don't mind me adding my two cents here weeks after the fact, but...

As you say, Jung in his later work grounds the archetypes in the physical through the concept of the psychoid, which seems to the point where "the archetype can no longer be considered strictly psychic", or whatever the phrasing is. This device let's Jung from the late 40s onward talk about the archetypes- or at least, their manifestations- a as being something 'exterior' to the individual, as he does with the 'mass-hallucination/myth making' ideas in Flying Saucers, or the supernatural edge in Synchronicity, or even just the mass societal movements in 'Undiscovered Self'. And even in examples with a more ethological tinge, such as how a spider knows how to spin its web, or the insect that knows what to do in its short existence, I think its implied Jung is dealing with something that is in some way dependent on the material world, and certainly not just the anthropomorphic mind. 

And oddly I've always felt that Symbols of Transformation of the Libido, that early breakup note to Freud, in some ways is the biggest 'peak behind the curtain' as to what archetypes really are. When the priest keeps having dreams he sees as a crisis of faith, until he goes on his mission work and ends up joining a different church, you essentially see there the archetype as a solution to an unconscious problem--where the problem is something 'grounded' in reality, in the material world, and the archetypal material is apprehended by the priest. This is the crux of Christian Kerslake connecting archetypes with the 'problem-ideas' (or virtual ideas) in Deleuze's philosophy. And if we are willing to make that jump, there are still very interesting questions about "how do you demarcate which archetype is which?" but in a realm less anthropomorphic and eminent than Jung's potentially is, which I like. Anyways, just my two cents. 

 

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Thank god I am Jung and not a Jungian. --CG Jung

In truth, there was only one Christian and he died on the cross. --Nietzsche

If it requires a uniform, it's a worthless endeavor. --George Carlin

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5 hours ago, rhlangan said:

 Symbols of Transformation of the Libido, that early breakup note to Freud,

thanks @rhlangan - but could someone tell me exactly what happened with this freud-jung breakup?  I occasionally read of both sides insulting the other so it must have been a doozy, but don't havea real idea as to how it happened..

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@stimmung79 From what I've read, I think a lot of commentators would agree the Jung-Freud relationship was doomed from the start. IIRC, Jung, an upstart psychiatrist eager to meet Freud, sent him some of his written work in 1906, and Freud responded favorably. In their initial correspondence, it's clear that Jung is not 100% on board with the primacy on the sex drive that defined Freud's work, but he goes along with it anyways, and eventually he becomes Freud's heir apparent in psychoanalysis.

Under the surface though, Jung is convinced that Freud's missing something with the unconscious. This had more to do with just Freud's preoccupation with sexual libido. It has a lot to do with the respective schools of thought each men came from in regards to early psychological theory. Freud's work with hypnosis and studying hysteria had a lot to with repressed memories (first real, than imagined) and wishes. The unconscious for him became an adjective of sorts where thinks were 'submerged' from conscious thought, and in some ways you could picture his model of the psyche as 'vertical'. Jung's early work dealt a lot more with 'complexes' and the 'splitting' of the psyche--you could think of this as a more lateral thing, as his unconscious became a proper noun, a sea of contents that the conscious mind is but one island in. This complete difference in ontology was never really rectified between Jung and Freud, and as Jung started giving more and more credence to symbols, myth, and the libido as being more than sexual drive, the further he drifted from Jung.  

I forget why they eventually pop off on eachother in their final letters to one another, other than the relationship had been strained for a while leading up to 1912. Jung accuses Freud of being manipulative and an asshole (probably). Freud says they're better off not taking to each other. Jung quotes some Shakespeare ("the rest is silence") and that's that. Freud dismisses all of Jung's later work as rubbish and says somewhere Jung's upper-class Protestant sensibility is why he got skeeved out by the sex theory. Jung has an awkward essay around 1920ish where he insinuates that Freud being a Jew is why he was obsessed with sex. Stay classy everyone. 

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Thank god I am Jung and not a Jungian. --CG Jung

In truth, there was only one Christian and he died on the cross. --Nietzsche

If it requires a uniform, it's a worthless endeavor. --George Carlin

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On 9/15/2017 at 8:04 AM, rhlangan said:

As you say, Jung in his later work grounds the archetypes in the physical through the concept of the psychoid, which seems to the point where "the archetype can no longer be considered strictly psychic", or whatever the phrasing is. This device let's Jung from the late 40s onward talk about the archetypes- or at least, their manifestations- a as being something 'exterior' to the individual, as he does with the 'mass-hallucination/myth making' ideas in Flying Saucers, or the supernatural edge in Synchronicity, or even just the mass societal movements in 'Undiscovered Self'. And even in examples with a more ethological tinge, such as how a spider knows how to spin its web, or the insect that knows what to do in its short existence, I think its implied Jung is dealing with something that is in some way dependent on the material world, and certainly not just the anthropomorphic mind. 

Thanks for this, especially because it made me reread my first post and want to modify the language I used.  When I said that the archetype is "a force which has an effect in the natural world" it should always be remembered that there's a crucial paradox in Jung's formulation.  Archetpes are producers in the natural world, but equally, and at the same time, they are also products insofar as the infinite nature of the infinite economy of the archetypes hinges precisely on Nature's perpetual evolution and mutation.  Which is why there are an infinite number of archetypes, which is why Jung's definition of archetypes in his therapeutics of presence is ultimately arbitrary and can only be arbitrary (or is that arbitrariness a moment within a larger necessary purposive indiviudation process - for Jung or otherwise?  The mind boggles :ConfusedGeek:).

 

On 9/15/2017 at 8:04 AM, rhlangan said:

you essentially see there the archetype as a solution to an unconscious problem--where the problem is something 'grounded' in reality, in the material world, and the archetypal material is apprehended by the priest. This is the crux of Christian Kerslake connecting archetypes with the 'problem-ideas' (or virtual ideas) in Deleuze's philosophy. And if we are willing to make that jump, there are still very interesting questions about "how do you demarcate which archetype is which?" but in a realm less anthropomorphic and eminent than Jung's potentially is, which I like.

I think we discussed this after the conference (or after our session had ended), but I can't help but wonder if this has anything to do with the dark precursor as (in my reading of Deleuze anyway) the in-itself of difference, or that philosophical moment where difference is "arrested" (inhibited in Schelling's terms?) into something "less than" difference, but which allows difference to step forward as a concept whereas previously it recedes behind its own work?

You also make reference to the "supernatural edge" of synchronicity.  Could you explain that?

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When a book and a head collide and a hollow sound is heard, must it always have come from the book? -- Lichtenberg

 

 

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On 9/15/2017 at 3:23 PM, rhlangan said:

Under the surface though, Jung is convinced that Freud's missing something with the unconscious. This had more to do with just Freud's preoccupation with sexual libido. It has a lot to do with the respective schools of thought each men came from in regards to early psychological theory. Freud's work with hypnosis and studying hysteria had a lot to with repressed memories (first real, than imagined) and wishes. The unconscious for him became an adjective of sorts where thinks were 'submerged' from conscious thought, and in some ways you could picture his model of the psyche as 'vertical'. Jung's early work dealt a lot more with 'complexes' and the 'splitting' of the psyche--you could think of this as a more lateral thing, as his unconscious became a proper noun, a sea of contents that the conscious mind is but one island in. This complete difference in ontology was never really rectified between Jung and Freud, and as Jung started giving more and more credence to symbols, myth, and the libido as being more than sexual drive, the further he drifted from Jung. 

As opposed to apologising for sounding like I'm advertising my dissertation here and there, I'll just say outright that much of what I say is derived in one way or another from my dissertation research. :)

I think it was Haule who wrote an article a while back about how even in his earliest thinking Jung was far more influenced by thinkers in the dissociationist tradition such as Janet and Théodore Flournoy and wasn't nearly as dependent on Freudian "discipleship" as the traditional narrative suggests.  Which is not to say that Freud never flirted with what you call the "horizontalism" of the unconscious.  I think it wad Adrian Johnston, for all his misunderstandings of Jung, who pointed out an important knot in Freud's thinking on the unconscious - in his essay "The Unconscious" (1915?) Freud says the unconscious is "timeless," but how does this square with the prominence of the Oedipus myth and its insistence on beginnings?  Moreover, while I think you're absolutely right to argue that Jung sees myths and symbols in religion, philosophy and literature as more important than Freud, Freud nevertheless puts a myth (Oedipus) arguably at the the center of psychoanalysis (I say "arguably" because the issue of a "centre" of psychoanalysis is a complicated one - would it be the Oedipus myth?  The death drive?  None of the above?  Can the death drive be seen as a "center"?)

This is also interesting because by all accounts Freud was a much better writer than Jung...although I would obviously need to know much more German to substantiate this.  Regardless, I always enjoy reading Freud's essay on the uncanny for this reason.

 

On 9/15/2017 at 3:23 PM, rhlangan said:

I forget why they eventually pop off on eachother in their final letters to one another, other than the relationship had been strained for a while leading up to 1912. Jung accuses Freud of being manipulative and an asshole (probably). Freud says they're better off not taking to each other. Jung quotes some Shakespeare ("the rest is silence") and that's that. Freud dismisses all of Jung's later work as rubbish and says somewhere Jung's upper-class Protestant sensibility is why he got skeeved out by the sex theory. Jung has an awkward essay around 1920ish where he insinuates that Freud being a Jew is why he was obsessed with sex. Stay classy everyone. 

yeah, Freud got all paternalistic on him at the end, but at the same time there are a couple of moments where he acknowledge some very important influences from Jung.  In one amazingly subtle letter, Freud says that Jung says things that Freud would like to say but cannot!  The mind only boggles as to what that means...

There's a good article by Maria(?) Leitner that discusses the way in which pathology was used by the inner circle of Freudian psychoanalysis to vilify and marginalise its dissenters.

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When a book and a head collide and a hollow sound is heard, must it always have come from the book? -- Lichtenberg

 

 

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On 9/17/2017 at 8:48 AM, Gord Barentsen said:

Thanks for this, especially because it made me reread my first post and want to modify the language I used.  When I said that the archetype is "a force which has an effect in the natural world" it should always be remembered that there's a crucial paradox in Jung's formulation.  Archetpes are producers in the natural world, but equally, and at the same time, they are also products insofar as the infinite nature of the infinite economy of the archetypes hinges precisely on Nature's perpetual evolution and mutation.  Which is why there are an infinite number of archetypes, which is why Jung's definition of archetypes in his therapeutics of presence is ultimately arbitrary and can only be arbitrary (or is that arbitrariness a moment within a larger necessary purposive indiviudation process - for Jung or otherwise?  The mind boggles :ConfusedGeek:).

 

I think we discussed this after the conference (or after our session had ended), but I can't help but wonder if this has anything to do with the dark precursor as (in my reading of Deleuze anyway) the in-itself of difference, or that philosophical moment where difference is "arrested" (inhibited in Schelling's terms?) into something "less than" difference, but which allows difference to step forward as a concept whereas previously it recedes behind its own work?

You also make reference to the "supernatural edge" of synchronicity.  Could you explain that?

The 'supernatural edge' in synchronicity is merely referring to the acausal nature of it; in the typical formulation, an inner feeling or thought juxtaposed with a corresponding exterior event. And typically, per Jung, these incidents occur during a period of psychic change or unconscious upheaval. An oft-repeated example is a very rational woman who is Jung's patient, and is skeptical of Jung's methods. She dreams of a scarab beetle and is describing the dream to Jung right when a big beetle lands on his window, and he plucks it and hands it to her. Another example is, while confronting Freud about the possibility of parapsychology, which Freud dismissed, Jung foresaw loud popping sounds to emanate from a nearby bookshelf. See this article for a drive by explanation. It's worth noting that, assuming this incident happened as reported, Jung didn't fully formulate his views on synchronicity till many years down the line. 

The real interesting thing I've noticed in the Jungian literature on synchronicity is how far scholars are willing to go to endow it with an actual reality or not--that is to say, does it really happen or are we just valuing moments that are 'special' to us, as people? You'll see certain Jungians, especially on the developmental and 'subject-only' end of the scale (Jean Knox, for instance) basically describe it like this: a cute coincidence that can help the mind along the path of individuation, but certainly nothing objectively 'real' about it. Whereas certainly others (Atmanspacher) say there's more going on there, that this is some sort of constellation between mind and matter going on, or maybe a 'collapse' between what we normally perceive to be a distinction between them. Certainly I can't imagine anyone denying that this latter sort, a 'hard' synchronicity, if you will, is what Jung was going after. His work with Wolfgang Pauli pretty much confirms that, and in some ways it seems like it was Pauli who pushed Jung out of the intrasubjective. 

At the Holism Conference, we saw two examples of a 'hard' synchronicity being argued for. 1) With Harald Atmanspacher's Quantum Holism, where mind and matter are 'decayed aspects' of a singular whole, building off the discussions between Jung and Wolfgang Pauli; and 2) George Hogenson's use of fractals and complex theory. I Hogenson's paper on 'Dragon Kings', he equates synchronicities with systems that become very homogenized and dense, and on the verge of a complete phase transition. This occurs when language-as-signs (like a Chimp's screech referring only to an incoming predator) becomes language-as-symbols (where words can have more than one meaning), and he says that explains why in synchronicity a symbol like the scarab beetle than recurs in both mind and matter....

There are potential issues I think with both these views, not the least of which is I am not convinced they really cohere with one another. But also, in Deleuze's thought there is an inherent problem in taking a reified image, such as a fractal, and then using it to explain events and occurrences. It becomes another reified law whose genesis is not accounted for. Attractors and complex systems have everything to do with Deleuze's idea of the virtual--see DeLanda's work for info on that. But these patterns that we can project out of the trajectory of actual things--the interactions of which are what produce intensive differences--exist only in the actual material, and not as something 'transcendent' to it. In other words, in Deleuze the virtual never 'produces' itself, in a sense--at least, not without matter beckoning it into existence in a way. I think this paradox is very closely related to how you discuss the infinite economy of the Jungian Archetype VS Nature's perpetual evolution. And, because all intensive processes interlink with another (the Body without Organs), this is why, indeed, parsing out certain archetypes is in a sense arbitrary, or at the very least, is serving a practical purpose (but that doesn't mean it's bullshit either!). 

The 'Dark Precursor' in Deleuze is that moment where a difference in intensities, or a multiplicity of different intensities that would interact in what he calls a 'spatio-temporal dynamism' (this is basically jargon to say that if you have intensities that reciprocate with one another, they are going to qualitatively lead to a new becoming). Of course, it's the actualized products of this process that the virtual and the intensive almost 'hide' behind, and what we then tend to describe in terms of deified generalities. 

To talk of attractors as transcendent things risks creating a situation where you could discuss "why this world and not another?", or a real v. possible scenario, which is anathema to Deleuze's project, because then real difference becomes completely submerged by a discussion of difference by negation. Think of a dumb comic book with a multiverse and an 'Earth One'. Earth One is then apparently the 'correct Earth', with all the perfected forms that every other Earth features lesser copies of. Not real difference! 

On 9/17/2017 at 9:18 AM, Gord Barentsen said:

As opposed to apologising for sounding like I'm advertising my dissertation here and there, I'll just say outright that much of what I say is derived in one way or another from my dissertation research. :)

I think it was Haule who wrote an article a while back about how even in his earliest thinking Jung was far more influenced by thinkers in the dissociationist tradition such as Janet and Théodore Flournoy and wasn't nearly as dependent on Freudian "discipleship" as the traditional narrative suggests.  Which is not to say that Freud never flirted with what you call the "horizontalism" of the unconscious.  I think it wad Adrian Johnston, for all his misunderstandings of Jung, who pointed out an important knot in Freud's thinking on the unconscious - in his essay "The Unconscious" (1915?) Freud says the unconscious is "timeless," but how does this square with the prominence of the Oedipus myth and its insistence on beginnings?  Moreover, while I think you're absolutely right to argue that Jung sees myths and symbols in religion, philosophy and literature as more important than Freud, Freud nevertheless puts a myth (Oedipus) arguably at the the center of psychoanalysis (I say "arguably" because the issue of a "centre" of psychoanalysis is a complicated one - would it be the Oedipus myth?  The death drive?  None of the above?  Can the death drive be seen as a "center"?)

This is also interesting because by all accounts Freud was a much better writer than Jung...although I would obviously need to know much more German to substantiate this.  Regardless, I always enjoy reading Freud's essay on the uncanny for this reason.

 

yeah, Freud got all paternalistic on him at the end, but at the same time there are a couple of moments where he acknowledge some very important influences from Jung.  In one amazingly subtle letter, Freud says that Jung says things that Freud would like to say but cannot!  The mind only boggles as to what that means...

There's a good article by Maria(?) Leitner that discusses the way in which pathology was used by the inner circle of Freudian psychoanalysis to vilify and marginalise its dissenters.

That's an interesting point you make about the Oedipus Complex, also interesting because doesn't Jung say somewhere-maybe Two Essays on Analytical Psych--that in some respect, the Oedipus Complex was the 'one archetype' that Freud discovered? 

And yeah, letters like that remind me what an interesting character Freud really was. Embittered, and also very aware of it! 

Thank god I am Jung and not a Jungian. --CG Jung

In truth, there was only one Christian and he died on the cross. --Nietzsche

If it requires a uniform, it's a worthless endeavor. --George Carlin

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok so I am undoubtedly jumping back into the thick of this discussion whilst thinking I need a dictionary to keep up with you nerds ^_^ but I also seem to recall Jung sleeping with one (or several) of his patients, and that Freud used that against him or criticized him for it?  Or maybe I'm committing the movie fallacy by taking what I remember seeing in A Dangerous Method at face value..

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