Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Important note on Edinger's Ego and Archetype

I've just bought Ego and Archetype, which uses primarily Biblical references and symbols to explain Jung's concept of Individuation. In browsing the customer comments I found this little gem and wanted to put it here as a reminder to myself for when I read the book:

Good start but loses focus
The first two parts of this book are a great condensation of the individuation process which seems somewhat dispersed in Jung's writings. I particularly thought his discussion of the inflation and alienation cycle was very good. He goes into detail of potential blocks in the cycle and where those blocks later lead to difficulties in the process.
Where I thought he lost his way was in his gradual shift from using biblical reference to support his discussion of individuation to what seemed, at the end of Part II, to become primarily biblical exegesis. The quotes slowly start dominating the text and the relation of the symbols, e.g. the blood of Christ, to individuation seem tenuous. He also goes over some material, e.g. Job, alchemy, the Philosopher's Stone, etc., that Jung has elsewhere discussed at length and I didn't think Edinger's take added much new here. If you haven't read these topics in Jung already or only have a casual interest it might be a good summary but for me it was repetitive.
One chapter I found curiously flawed was "The Trinity Archetype and the Dialectic of Development". Edinger starts the chapter by taking Jung to task for being to too focused on finding the "missing fourth" when interpreting trinity symbols, in particular the Holy Trinity. He goes on to make a useful distinction between the quaternity, representing essentially the components of the Self, and the trinity, representing the process of individuation. In his view, the Holy Trinity relates to the process of individuation, i.e. the ages of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, not the actors/archetypes for which they're named. The Holy Trinity being a symbol of developmental process then is in no need of a fourth as Jung proposed.
Yet, I think he misunderstood Jung here and his interpretation is at odds even with his own earlier discussion. The "age of the Son," being the dialectic antithesis of that of Father -- totality, unity, identification of ego with Self -- is an age of *duality*, not the one-sided view promulgated by the Church of the Son looking back to the lost age of the Father. The reconciliation of opposites during the age of the Son is precisely what brings about the new, higher-level unity in that of the Holy Spirit. What is missing in the psychological interpretation of the age of the Son is that very opposite with which to reconcile, e.g. the devil, Satan, the unconscious forces. Even though Edinger quotes Jung as characterizing this age as "a sharpening of opposites," he seems to overlook the import: the "age of the Son" is really a misnomer and might better be named the "age of Two Sons." This is what I believe Jung was alluding to and is supported by many passages in which he discusses the disavowal and externalization of the dark side in Western monotheism.
If Edinger had brought more Eastern religion to bear on the discussion, with its heavy emphasis on the duality of existence and three-phase process of unity-duality-unity, he may have come to an different conclusion on this particular symbol. But his supporting examples are skewed to the West, mostly biblical, and his few forays into the East not very profound.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Latest book acquisitions - Jung and The Red Book

The ones on the floor are new
Here are the latest physical additions to my library - centered around Carl Gustav Jung's Red Book. Discovering that has been foundational - how on earth did I never hear about it before? Undoubtedly because I last bought Jung books in probably the 90's, and it wasn't published until much more recently. 2009 or so, which is when I was beginning my explorations into science by reading all of Carl Sagan's books (those are offscreen to the left a ways and up on the second shelf). That was actually the beginning of a new renaissance of sorts for me, but I was occasionally bugged by the nagging idea that while science is incredibly useful and necessary (if we're to understand reality objectively and to develop technology), the dimension of humanity - of soul - was missing or at least largely overlooked. I firmly believe we need science - we need the scientific method and its removal of values in order to facilitate unbiased searching. But we need it only for the acquisition of knowledge. For the rest of life - the more important stuff - we need values and judgement. In the moral realm for instance. If you try to be valueless there then you're helpless and have no way to make important decisions. So while in some ways science displaced religion, it utterly fails to replace the most important things religion did for our ancestors. And today's rational materialism gives us nothing to help with that.

I refer you to Dr. Jordan Peterson, whose videos I've been devouring lately and who led me to The Red Book as well as back to Jung, Nietzsche, and many other great writers. His focus is on exactly what I just said - the need for values and judgement - and how to develop your skills for them in this value-starved world.

Here are my latest Kindle purchases:

My most recent revelations - aside from the astonishing Red Book - are Edward Edinger and Murray Stein, who explain some of Jung's ideas clearly and make them accessible. I had waded through all the Jung books on my shelf years ago (well, most anyway, just got a start on Aion) and while sections of them blazed brilliantly in my mindscape, large parts of them remained opaque and frustratingly mystifying. Oh, I discovered these guys largely thanks to another excellent video channel; The Carl Jung Depth Psychology Reading Group

I realized very recently that I must have had some very early familiarity with Jung's ideas - and I mean in grade school. Because for whatever reason I've always connected with his kind of thinking. I think it's very likely that my mom called me in to watch a documentary about him when I was young or something similar - it's the kind of thing she was into and she would always call me if there was something on she found fascinating. Anyway, whether it was directly from the Maestro himself or more indirectly, I definitely had access to his ideas from an early age and it has formed my development and beliefs ever since. But due to the problems in fully understanding his theories that I've already mentioned, I was unable until now to get a clear understanding of his entire ouvre. Well that;s changing rapidly now, and it seems to be galvanizing me. So much is clicking into place now, and my understanding of the relation between the psyche and objective reality is undergoing a significant sea change. My dreams are getting very interesting lately - filled with powerful and deeply interconnected imagery and symbolism, and I believe I'm undergoing the re-centering process that Jung dubbed Individuation - also known as Self-Realization