Jungian Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

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Kathyd
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Re: Jungian Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Post by Kathyd » November 7th, 2017, 10:25 pm

Burning ghost wrote:No, not really. That would be more akin to Platonic Archetypes. The Vedic scriptures follow that line of thought, Jung is looking at the "archetypes" as archetypes of the human species not some "cosmic consciousness" (that would be mysticism)
But if the human species have "archetypes", would not other species also have their own collective unconscious as well?

And if there is a general collective unconscious particular to each species, would this not suggest the possible existence of a sort of "universal archetype", which applies to the Universe as a whole?

I don't see how you can only apply this idea of Archetypes to humans exclusively.

Burning ghost
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Re: Jungian Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Post by Burning ghost » November 8th, 2017, 3:58 am

Kathy -

I am not a tiger nor a horse. The closest we, as humans, could get to such an idea would likely be in reviewing studies of feral children and other limited areas (limited due to the selection of instances available.)

Such imaginings do likely express something about being human though. We actively pursue role-playing and fantasy in our lives.

I have just been reading part of a novel I have been trying to write for a long, long time. It is very interesting how I seem to understand it more after I've written the words. There is something I wish to express and by attempting to express it I understand it more. This is the danger which Jun gwarns against quite starkly throughout his works.

The funny thing is our interpretations are not static. What I believe Jung was trying to point out was some "pattern" of how interpretations alter over time rather than the actual direct interpretation as a insulated experience. Much like if you read a book you read last year you'll likely pull different kinds of meanings from it, even though the content is the same content and has remained the same, you and your manner of addressing the very same items differs due to your non-static nature.

What you've clearly done is run away with the idea of "universal" to mean "the universe" when in fact it means nothing more than "human agreement", such as with the universal static items used within a selected context (within a limited field) in order to discern more about our situation as humans. This I usual express in much the same way that Husserl did with items of language such as "five", "or", "and" and numerous other universally applicable terms. They are "universal" because they are never different kinds of "five"s or "and"s. They are accepted universal terms that don't need explication within the field of language. This is why mathematics is successful. We don't need to have a discussion about "five" because it is unchanging.

If I am being completely honest it is because of this I find Jungian concepts are equally bound by limitations. Regardless I find them of use even though I remain skeptical about the universality of his concepts. An another problem within all of this is the modern attitude of material reductionism that remains an extremely difficult proposition for many to shake off (even for a moment.)

Having interests in th ehistory of human spirituality does not mean someone is necessarily "spiritual" nor does it mean they are even referring to "spirituality" in any thing like the same way other people do as it is most certainly not a universal concept like "five" or "and".

I have seen numerous conflictions across forums over the past few years I've participated on them mostly due to a complete lack of understanding o fthe power of subjective understanding and hermeneutic application. Often dialogue becomes tangled in a mess of blind semantic applications.

If you wish to interpret Jung's idea as suggesting such a thing then do so. Jung didn't seem to focus on this area so why should I?
AKA badgerjelly

Chili
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Re: Jungian Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Post by Chili » November 8th, 2017, 10:11 am

One way to find out if Jung's archetypes are mystical is to ask how they work? Is there a repository where all human experiences go, and then they erupt out in the thoughts or feelings of particular people? Plain old science will explain that people have genes and brain structures, that they change over the period of human evolution, due to biological evolution, with no necessary reference to something non-present or non-physical. I'm aware of the cases Jung offers as "proof" and these are easier to read as evidence of reincarnation than something non-present and non-physical which is *shared* by all people.

Burning ghost
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Re: Jungian Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Post by Burning ghost » November 8th, 2017, 10:53 am

Chili wrote:One way to find out if Jung's archetypes are mystical is to ask how they work? Is there a repository where all human experiences go, and then they erupt out in the thoughts or feelings of particular people? Plain old science will explain that people have genes and brain structures, that they change over the period of human evolution, due to biological evolution, with no necessary reference to something non-present or non-physical. I'm aware of the cases Jung offers as "proof" and these are easier to read as evidence of reincarnation than something non-present and non-physical which is *shared* by all people.
Another way would be to take his word for it. He says quite deliberately and clearly that they are not a mystical term.

It would be deeply disingenuous to read such things as evidence of reincarnation.
AKA badgerjelly

Chili
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Re: Jungian Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Post by Chili » November 8th, 2017, 11:09 am

Burning ghost wrote:
Chili wrote:One way to find out if Jung's archetypes are mystical is to ask how they work? Is there a repository where all human experiences go, and then they erupt out in the thoughts or feelings of particular people? Plain old science will explain that people have genes and brain structures, that they change over the period of human evolution, due to biological evolution, with no necessary reference to something non-present or non-physical. I'm aware of the cases Jung offers as "proof" and these are easier to read as evidence of reincarnation than something non-present and non-physical which is *shared* by all people.
Another way would be to take his word for it. He says quite deliberately and clearly that they are not a mystical term.

It would be deeply disingenuous to read such things as evidence of reincarnation.
One person's word for something is the last thing another person should take as given.
"I believe that God manifests as rainbows and you should take my word for it that this idea is not mystical."

What definition of "disingenuous" are you using above?

Burning ghost
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Re: Jungian Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Post by Burning ghost » November 10th, 2017, 4:23 am

Count -
If there were any universal symbolic patterns associated with these regulations, Jung's theory would have to take them into account and extend it to a broad group of animals and species. What has a zebra to do with the magician archetype?
I think I've already mentioned this since your post, but no, it does not mean we have much to say about "universals" regarding all species because we're in no position to do so (being human.) He is talking about something universal to the human psyche. We could infer this further afield if we wished, but it is plain enough to me that I know nothing of the life and perspective of a Zebra to make such claims. We could assume, at a push, certain archetypal sets, that are specific to this or that species. The Magi, is not to my knowledge, a Jungian archetype, although I would claim it is relate to something along the lines of the Wiseman/sage and/or intellect in general. I have not done any research into specific archetypal forms and I am only aware of what Jung has mentioned in what I've read, being anima, animus, trickster, hero etc.,. He has little to say about animus because he was not a woman. There is also the problem of untangling the concepts of feminine and masculine wholly from the concepts of male and female.
Repated themes in mythical thought and practices, as found by Anthropology, do not mean necessarily universal mythical patterns imprinted in our genes and resurfacing from a hidden psyche, but typical mental structures developed by experience and associated with typical situations encountered by humans(1). No doubt that Jung took the mythical motifs from the typical primitive mindsets studied by Lucien Levy-Bruhl and adapted his concept of collective representations to make his own of collective unconscious. But even though they look the same and C. Jung insists they are analogous, as I said, it is an inversion of the products of culture as pre-existing absolutes, for which there's no empirical support, as Jung claims(2).

About the deliberate avoidance of materialist explanations, one just has to read the pages dedicated by Jung to praise mythical thinking and religious images, to devalue reason and complain about the modern "impoverishment of symbols"(3).
I better break this down for ease of reference:

1) Of course. We cannot assume to much about where certain symbolic forms have come from. We also would be hard pressed to deny that entirely isolated cultures have quite blatantly common symbolic forms that have arisen for some reason and that if they are due to experience, which I agree they must be, you then have to wed the experience with what was already in place. The faculty of the intellect/imagination has formed the same representations and themes, the same kind of themes are of importance.

2) Not entirely. We don't learn fear and you've already stated that it is not a matter of the tabula rasa, and so Jung is simply setting up a theory of what is in place a priori, which would sit more comfortably with material empiricists as something akin to a species wide genetic inheritance. That in itself is a very complex matter and you and I are well within our rights to ask the extent of the influence (given that prenatal development has a huge effect on human biological morphology I don't see it as some thing we can quickly dismiss, although we should remain guarded as to the extent of the effect). It is here that Jung weds such an assumption with what he saw in day-to-day practice and connected with his interest in human belief (religions and mysticism.)

It is really nice that you brought up "language". It is a big deal for me. In a sense I regard Jung as attempting to reveal something of the grounding of "language". In linguistic terms "language" can have a very broad meaning rather than just referring to this here stuff we're using now. Language is a natural faculty of the human species. I believe I have already mentioned the case of feral children in a later post here? This leaves us to consider the developmental stages of the human brain and its influence on how we come to view the world, and we can relate this quite empirically to physical materialism. I see no reason that Jung's ideas may well be very useful metaphors for certain innate biological processes. I do remain skeptical though, but my curiosity keeps me intrigued by his ideas.

I am not intending to get into the neurological evidences for the modality of language in the brain. It is a plastic medium, but there is certainly a non-local modality to language regarding language comprehension and construction (I am assuming you are aware of these?) I am not ignorant of all of the physical data, but here I am putting it aside to look at the historical and anthropological data.

Without a doubt I would regard the work of Eliade about Shamanism as being the most telling. What remains open to criticism is the possible interrelation of religious cultures and language. I am well aware of the pitfalls of apophenia, but I don't see these patterns as being meaningless when they have such a global presence. The axis mundi (tree of life) is perhaps the most common theme and it could be that this theme is part of something innately human, and given that we were a species that spent a many generations living in and among trees we can carefully infer that there may be some relation here. I am unaware of any neurological study that shows an innate ability for humans to conceptualise a "tree" though, but there is sufficient data for such in built functions that allow us to see faces. As a little aside I just learnt that chicks are not born with the innate ability to peck at grubs and worms, it turns out that they are born with the innate drive to peck their own feet and that grub and worms happen to look like their toes! This would fly in the face of my proposal of a concept of "tree" being inbuilt given that most evidence seems to suggest that we initially interact with the world (meaning prenatal too) with our body as part of the external world not part of ourselves. It seems reasonable to assume the first interactions are embedded in how we act toward our body and then circumstantially this is transferred into what we would more easily call the "external" world, the world where we don't "feel".

Anyway, it seems some faculty, somehow, uses the "tree" as a symbol for a human experience. Certain smells and sounds cause us to react with fear. We see a plate of food with four tomatoes placed around edges of the meal and it does taste as good as a plate with three tomatoes (Odd always tastes better.) There is something about aesthetics that is knowable where we can say X will be better than Y even though we may not fully understand why this is. In all mythology there is a theme of angels and demons, 'good' spirits and 'bad' spirits, black or white magic, etc.,. This is not to say that magic, spirits or demons exist only that they represent a common underlying experience of human nature and within them a common narrative theme to explicate our appropriation about the world.

What is more in shaman traditions there is a prominent practice of inducing altered states of consciousness. It is quite widely accepted that prehistoric cave paintings express patterns associated with altered states of consciousness, with spiral motifs, grid patterns and other such forms (geometrical representations.)

3) I can only disagree. Pre-existing? Humans exist and culture is a product of the human endeavor (whatever it may be), I don't see how we can deny the existence of humans and the creation of culture. Just like with the problem of consciousness many find it hard to accept consciousness as an emerging property. We have some ideas of the requisite circumstances for consciousness to arise, and in the same light culture too must have some requisite circumstances, and part of these circumstances will be embedded in the biological of humans and expressed in some conscious fashion. Interactions causes habits and habits culminate to form a culture (simply put), but there is always the question of the prior and it is at the depth of the human condition that Jung refers to the Archetypes as being a concept to frame this (and he then looks to symbolic forms as part of cultural understanding and self understanding within a social context.) We act like humans because we're humans, we don't crawl around on all fours meowing like cats, but we would IF we were brought up by a community of cats. We are adaptable and cats too will fit into the social scheme of human society, and dogs too. Humans around humans are human, and humans around wolves will act as if wolves because that is their immediate community. The way I see it is the archetypes are what creates human culture, rather than a mishmash of humans barking, meowing or living in trees whistling to each other and flapping their arms (if many humans started doing this, due to some neurological condition) then we as a species would change and so would the archetypal forms. It seems to me the archetypes are quite robust even though they may not be compatible with every environmental circumstance.

On a material biological level I see no reason we could not select a certain process of biology and call it representative of the "hero" archetypes or "mother" archetypes. These would be active and recognizable only through action in the environment and most easily accessible by sensory deprivation and inner reflection. Some god of war, some destructive force of nature, this is how we understand ourselves and the world about us, it is how the archetypes present themselves to us, how we direct our lives between safety and exploration, between comfort and curiosity. We certainly all understand the need for destruction, and understand that when something ends then something new can begin, we know fear of fire and use of fire, we know maternal instincts and understand they can damage us if left unregulated. What is more we can see these themes as being the backbone of all literature, all religion and all societies. I find it baffling how anyone could deny this and equally baffling how this could be referred to as "mysticism". Fantasies and stories exist because they are deemed important and of value, and the oldest and most robust myths (the ones which have stood the test of time) reveal something informative about the human condition.

I think Schiller said something most fitting about humans, to paraphrase; "humans are at their most human when at play", within the uninhibited fantasy we uncover something about our nature that would otherwise remain hidden beneath practical functions, which reveals the habit of humans to view "play" as infantile rather than a practical function! Kind of peculiar, but we see "work" as serious stuff and "play" as trivial. This is a representation of archetypes, the father figure of structure and authority opposing the playful trickster of chaos and distraction (Nietzsche's "Apolline" and "Dionysian" analogy), and I feel that the "material" representation is the Apolline and the "metaphorical" representation is the Dionysian, one is rigid and stable and the other is free-wheeling and dangerous. In this respect Jung's ideas, just like Nietzsche's, were dangerous - refer to the quote about what Jung says about the avoidance of danger, and I am damn sure he knew his ideas would be taken up by New Ager's, but he thought, rightly or wrongly, it was worth it.

I don't think one needs to be a "mystic" to appreciate some use in mysticism. Some great works have been written and passed down that contain a great deal of wisdom which can be explored from many different angles. Like art the richness and value is not in the singular meaning, not in some delusion of the absolute, it is a meaningful investigation into the diversity of human thought and all its contrary views. A single line of poetry can lead to a revolution just as much as a single equation can.

Sorry if I rambled on too much for your liking here :/ It is hard to divert the investigation of human thought away from materialist data. The point is not to dismiss it, just to step back and look again for other lines of approach and then after such has been done see if, or how they compliment/oppose each other.

I am not one prone to jumping off into any old idea for the sake of it. My curiosity started along these lines many years ago when I was beginning to pull my head out of the myopic view of religion as a means for naught but war and destruction, when I became fascinated why any one believed anything at all, when I looked at books of mythology and volumes about the worlds different gods why there was a blatantly common theme to the characters and deities, why the narratives had so much in common ... sadly it wasn't until around 15 years later that I found Jung had done a lifetimes worth of exploration into this very theme. I also had a huge disregard for psychology in my youth as well as economics, both of which turned out to be quite important factors missing from how to develop my thoughts! haha!

-- Updated November 11th, 2017, 4:05 am to add the following --

A loose connection, but maybe worth listening to this - 6 mins only (you can hear pretty much the same kind of thing from many different people. At least this guy figures out the "cultural lens" as he puts it.) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXRZgB6Rnjk
AKA badgerjelly

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