Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Individuation - Jung's idea

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For CG Jung individuation was the purpose of life.

It is hard to be exact about what he meant by this - it was a lifelong process of self-creation and self-therapy - a project of re-making the worldly self in conformity with the inner self.

The inner self has an unique aspect - the individuality - and a common aspect shared with other people - the collective unconscious of archetypal forms and stories.

Well, all this gives people something to do with their lives - to 'work on themselves' - and it is quite possible that doing so makes people feel better than otherwise. But of course it isn't going anywhere and it doesn't provide any link with anybody else - life becomes a matter of 'memories, dreams. reflections'.

(Which is the title of Jung's purported autobiography - mostly a highly-selective work written by Aniela Jaffe with a propagandistic eye for Jung's posthumous reputation - it also happens to be far more enjoyable and interesting than anything Jung ever wrote by-himself!)

So, Jung's project is on the one hand radically inadequate - leaving all the fundamental problems un-addressed hence un-solved; and on the other hand, radically selfish (not to mention idle).

Yet Jung's project ought to be part-of a viable, satisfying, therapeutic, engaging religion in the modern world - partial for sure, but that part worth having. 

Lacking-which we have religion as social control; something external, coercive, alienating - something that boils-down-to do this: don't do that.

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10 comments:

The Crow said...

Work on yourself enough, and the self can actually disappear, along with all the imaginary problems self imposes upon itself.
This is not automatically the case, but certainly it is possible.
Is the world perfect? It is, when you take your eyes off people and self, and instead, survey the actual World.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Crow "Work on yourself enough, and the self can actually disappear, along with all the imaginary problems self imposes upon itself. "

That would be working upon your wrist veins with a razor - I presume?

*Seriously* (IF it were to be taken seriously) this is a recipe for suicide ASAP - unless suicide is deterred by some kind of doctrine of even-worse post mortem punishment as with Jainism/ Hinduism/ Buddhism (reincarnation as an Untouchable, or a cockroach, or whatever).

Only the thought of something worse to follow suicide will make suicide irrational IF the primary objective is to get rid of the Self.

Nicholas Fulford said...

Recognizing that the self emerges from the substrate is useful knowledge. Recognizing that archetypes are powerful common elements is helpful when writing. Seeing them expressed across different cultures enables powerful narratives to be built that are not bound to one culture and time. (Tolkien uses them brilliantly.)

But, perpetual naval-gazing is a little too narcissistic for words.

Bruce Charlton said...

@NF " Seeing them expressed across different cultures enables powerful narratives to be built that are not bound to one culture and time."

Yes - Jung via Joseph Campbell seems to have helped some Hollywood screenwriters keep their stories solid (when under pressure of many other types) and the original Star Wars and The Lion King were explicitly written with archetypal myths in mind.

http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero's_journey.htm#Practical

The Crow said...

@Bruce: that's a funny thing. My comment didn't remotely imply suicide. Unless suicide of the intellect/ego. I alluded to removal of the self looking at self, in order to see reality, as opposed to only seeing self.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Crow - You see, I think you either haven't followed through your logic, or else are not really serious about what you are saying.

NOT that I am advising you to follow through the logic!

legodjerk said...

@Crow and @Bruce

The self/ego Crow refers to is as real as one's name. A name defines a person, gives him a label for people to refer to, but the person does NOT die if he stops using his name.

A person may be called (named) dumb, stupid, ugly, dull, boring, silly, good-for-nothing and feel miserable and depressed as long as he takes his name seriously and believes that his name truly defines him. But once he realises he is NOT his name, there is no longer any reason for him to be upset.

When a person realises he is NOT his (sense of) self, so too do all his imaginary problems disappear. It is death of the mental ego and NOT the physical body or consciousness.

Bruce Charlton said...

@l - "It is death of the mental ego and NOT the physical body or consciousness."

Of course not - where did you get the idea?

Here is the reasoning: If death of the mental ego is the primary aim of life - the fastest and surest way to kill the mental ego is to kill yourself.

It is very simple logic.

So why do people NOT kill themselves in 'Eastern' religions? Typically because they also believe that if they kill themselves (without first attaining enlightenment/ detachment/ peace of mind/ indifference or whatever) they will be reincarnated in an even-worse condition.

IF someone who believes that the purpose of life is to kill the self/ ego/ personality does NOT believe in some punishing form of reincarnation - then there is no reason not to kill themselves - and every reason to do so.

Now I am certainly not suggesting anybody kills themselves - but I am suggesting that they instead acknowledge the incoherence or reductio ad absurdum of this idea that the primary purpose of life should be killing the self/ ego/ personality.

The Crow said...

"IF someone who believes that the purpose of life is to kill the self/ ego/ personality does NOT believe in some punishing form of reincarnation - then there is no reason not to kill themselves - and every reason to do so."

There are, Bruce, things you simply do not understand. Which is how you came to miss the payload of your past interest in Eastern Mysticism.
Better not to judge it as useless, based purely upon your inability to penetrate its mysteries.
You missed what you missed because you were unable to approach it without applying your intellect to it.
It is not an intellectual thing, any more - in fact - than Christianity is.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Crow - Didn't miss it - found something far better.