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Keywords:

  • Jürgen Habermas;
  • C.G. Jung and metaphysics;
  • naturalism;
  • religious;
  • secular;
  • social science;
  • Charles Taylor

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. AbstractT A
  3. Introduction
  4. Secular
  5. Religious
  6. Secular and religious
  7. The intrinsic doubleness of analytical psychology and the hegemony of naturalism in the social sciences
  8. References

In recent years a number of prominent social theorists, including Jürgen Habermas and Charles Taylor, have voiced concern about the hegemony of naturalistic, secular assumptions in the social sciences, and in their different ways have sought to address this by establishing greater parity between secular and religious perspectives. This paper suggests that C.G. Jung's analytical psychology, which hitherto has been largely ignored by social theory, may have something to contribute on this issue as it can be understood coherently both empirically, without reference to transcendent reality, and metaphysically, with reference to transcendent reality. It is argued that, despite his denials of any metaphysical intent, Jung does in fact engage in metaphysics and that together the empirical and metaphysical vectors of his thought result in a rich and distinctive double perspective. This dual secular and religious perspective can be seen as part of Jung's own critique of the hegemony of naturalism and secularism, which for Jung has profound social as well as clinical relevance. The concern and approach that Habermas and Taylor share with Jung on this issue may provide some grounds for increased dialogue between analytical psychology and the social sciences.

Translations of Abstract

Ces dernières années certains théoriciens sociaux éminents, dont Jürgen Habermas et Charles Taylor, se sont inquiétés de l'hégémonie des postulats profanes, naturalistes, dans les sciences sociales, et chacun à sa manière a cherché à en parler en établissant un meilleur équilibre entre les perspectives profanes et religieuses. Cet article suggère que la psychologie analytique de Jung, qui a été amplement ignorée jusqu'à présent par les sciences sociales, peut apporter sa contribution à cette question car elle peut être comprise de façon cohérente aussi bien empiriquement, sans référence à la réalité transcendante, que métaphysiquement, en se référant à la réalité transcendante. Il est discuté du fait que, malgré ses dénégations de toute intention métaphysique, Jung s'est réellement engagé du côté de la métaphysique, et que les deux courants empirique et métaphysique de sa pensée ont abouti à une double perspective riche et caractéristique. La double perspective profane et religieuse peut être considérée comme une part de la critique propre de Jung vis-à-vis de l'hégémonie du naturalisme et de la laïcité, qui pour Jung a un grand intérêt tant social que clinique. L'intérêt et l'approche que Habermas et Taylor partagent avec Jung sur cette question peut apporter des sujets d'échange entre psychologie analytique et sciences sociales.

In den vergangenen Jahren hat eine Anzahl prominenter Sozialtheoretiker, einschließlich Jürgen Habermas und Charles Taylor, Bedenken lautwerden lassen gegen die Vorherrschaft von naturalistischen säkularen Vorausannahmen in den Sozialwissenschaften. Auf ihre je eigene Weise haben sie sich dem anzunähern versucht, indem sie ein besseres Gleichgewicht zwischen säkularen und religiösen Perspektiven herstellten. Dieser Beitrag unterstellt, daß C.G. Jungs Analytische Psychologie, welche bisher durch die Sozialtheorie weitgehend ignoriert wurde, etwas zu diesem Thema beizutragen hat da sie, die Analytische Psychologie, kohärent sowohl als empirisch, ohne Referenz an eine transzendentale Realität, und metaphysisch, mit Referenz an eine transzendentale Wirklichkeit, verstanden werden kann. Es wird argumentiert, daß, ungeachtet seiner Verneinungen jedweder metaphysischer Absichten, sich Jung faktisch in die Metaphysik eingebracht hat und daß sowohl die empirischen wie die metaphysischen Vektoren seines Denkens in einer reichen und für ihn charakteristischen Doppelperspektive resultieren. Diese duale säkulare und religiöse Perspektive kann als Teil von Jungs eigener Kritik an der Hegemonie von Naturalismus und Säkularismus angesehen werden, die für Jung von grundlegender sozialer und klinischer Bedeutung ist. Das Anliegen und der Ansatz, den Habermas und Taylor mit Jung in dieser Angelegenheit teilen, könnte eine Basis schaffen für einen verstärkten Dialog zwischen Analytischer Psychologie und Sozialwissenschaften.

In anni recenti un numero di importanti teorici sociali, tra i quali Jùrgen Habermas e Charles Taylor hanno mostrato preoccupazione per l'egemonia delle ipotesi naturalistiche e laiche nelle scienze sociali e con modalità diverse hanno cercato di concentrarsi su ciò stabilendo una maggiore parità tra prospettive laiche e religiose. In questo lavoro si sostiene che la psicologia analitica di C.G.Jung, che è stata in gran misura ignorata dalla teoria sociale, può dare il suo contributo a questo proposito poiché può essere compresa coerentemente sia empiricamente, senza riferimenti a realtà trascendenti, sia metafisicamente, riferendosi a una realtà trascendente. Si sostiene che, nonostante il suo diniego di qualunque intento metafisico, Jung di fatto si ingaggia con la metafisica e che sia i vettori metafisici che quelli empirici del suo pensiero risultano in una ricca e distinta doppia prospettiva. Tale doppia prospettiva laica e religiosa può essere vista come parte della stessa critica che Jung fa all'egemonia del naturalismo e del laicismo, che per Jung ha una profonda rilevanza sia sociale che clinica. La preoccupazione e l'approccio che Habermas e Taylor condividono con Jung a questo proposito possono fornire un terreno fertile per un incremento di dialogo tra la psicologia analitica e le scienze sociali.

В последние годы ряд выдающихся социальных теоретиков, включая Юргена Хабермаса и Чарльза Тейлора, выражают озабоченность гегемонией натуралистических, секулярных допущений в социальных науках и пытаются по-разному своими способами обратиться к этой теме, нащупывая большее равноправие мирских и религиозных точек зрения. Данная статья говорит о том, что аналитическая психология К.Г.Юнга, до настоящего времени по большей части игнорируемая социальной теорией, может внести свой вклад в эту область, поскольку логически связно осмысливается и как эмпирическая дисциплина, вне отсылок к трансцендентной реальности, и как метафизическая, с отсылками к трансцендентной реальности. Доказывается, что, несмотря на свое отрицание каких бы то ни было метафизических намерений, Юнг в действительности занимался метафизикой, и что эмпирический и метафизический векторы его мышления сложились в богатую и особую двойную точку зрения. Эта дуальная – и мирская, и религиозная – точка зрения может рассматриваться как собственно Юнговская критика гегемонии натурализма и секуляризма, имевшая для самого Юнга глубокое социальное и клиническое значение. Тот подход к этой теме и та озабоченность, которые разделяют с Юнгом и Хабермас, и Тейлор, может стать почвой для набирающего силы диалога между аналитической психологией и социальными науками.

En los últimos años varios teóricos sociales prominentes, inclusive Jürgen Habermas y Charles Taylor, han expresado preocupación en relación a la hegemonía de las suposiciones naturalistas y seculares en las ciencias sociales y en diversas formas han procurado estudiarlas estableciendo una mayor paridad entre perspectivas seculares y religiosas. Este trabajo sugiere que la psicología analítica de C. G. Jung, que hasta ahora había sido en gran parte ignorada por las teorías sociales, podría contribuir en algo en este asunto tal como podría ser entendido en ambos sentidos, como empíricamente coherente, sin referencia a la realidad trascendente, y metafísicamente, con referencia a la realidad trascendente. Se discute este asunto ya que, a pesar de su negación de alguna intención metafísica, Jung de hecho entra en la metafísica y juntos los vectores empíricos y metafísicos de su pensamiento tienen como resultado una doble perspectiva rica y distintiva. Esta perspectiva doble, secular y religiosa puede ser vista como parte de la autocrítica de Jung a la hegemonía del naturalismo y el secularismo, que para Jung tiene profunda relevancia tanto social así como clínica. La preocupación y enfoque que Habermas y de Taylor comparten con Jung al respecto puede proporcionar algún terreno para estimular el diálogo creciente entre la psicología analítica y las ciencias sociales.


Introduction

  1. Top of page
  2. AbstractT A
  3. Introduction
  4. Secular
  5. Religious
  6. Secular and religious
  7. The intrinsic doubleness of analytical psychology and the hegemony of naturalism in the social sciences
  8. References

There can be no doubt about C. G. Jung's (1875–1961) interest in both the secular world, epitomized by the natural and social sciences in which he forged his career, and the religious world, which for Jung meant not only the Protestant Christianity of his immediate milieu but also other variants of Christianity, other Western religions, and numerous non-Western, pre-modern, and esoteric traditions. His interest in and advocacy of the values of both worlds was energetic and lifelong. On the one hand, he trained in science and medicine; was accordingly influenced by developments in biology, physics, psychiatry, and other sciences; achieved early international success as an experimental psychologist; protested throughout his life that he was working as an empiricist; and corresponded and collaborated with a number of eminent scientists, including most notably the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Wolfgang Pauli (see Shamdasani 2003; Main 2004, pp. 100–05, 121–24; Meier 2001). On the other hand, Jung was born of a long line of pastors, was influenced by his readings in theology and comparative religion, underwent several profound religious experiences at various times in his life, wrote extensively on a wide variety of religious traditions and topics and corresponded and collaborated with pastors and theologians, most notably the Dominican Father Victor White (see Heisig 1979; Main 2004, pp. 100–05, 129–31; Lammers & Cunningham 2007).

Along with many contemporaries Jung experienced the relationship between science and religion as a tension, a tension which, because of the depth of his experience of and commitment to both, seems to have affected him with especial vividness and urgency (see, e.g., Jung 1963 1995, p. 91 et passim; Main 2004, pp. 100–02). As Peter Homans has argued, this tension undoubtedly influenced the final shape of the psychological theory to which Jung gave rise: ‘during his mature life’, Homans writes, ‘[Jung] tried to reconcile the tension between tradition [religion/the sacred] and modernity [science/the secular], and his psychology is an attempt […] to close what most people consider the unbridgeable gap between [these] two orientations to the world’ (1979/1995, p. 186). Although Jung felt that for him psychiatry, his eventual choice of career, provided a place where ‘the two currents of [his] interest could flow together’ (1963, p. 130), he nevertheless continued throughout his life to work on the relationship between science and religion, and at different times and in different respects he viewed the relationship between them variously in terms of conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration (Main 2004, pp. 103–04). Consistently, however, he seems to have been concerned that neither should eclipse the other.

In this paper I argue that the psychological model Jung developed, drawing on his dual commitments, is both secular and religious. By this I mean that his psychology can be understood coherently both empirically, without reference to transcendent reality, and metaphysically, with reference to transcendent reality.1 Jung himself repeatedly denies that he has any metaphysical intent in his psychological work. Despite this, I think it can be shown that he does in fact engage in metaphysics, albeit implicitly. I argue that this metaphysical aspect of his thinking can complement rather than be effaced by, remain subordinate to, or supersede his empiricism and that together the empirical and metaphysical vectors of his thought can result in a rich and distinctive double perspective.

I set out the case for finding this double perspective in Jung's work in some detail, for the perspective not only has immense clinical value, in Jung's view, but also underpins a distinctive contribution that analytical psychology can make to a range of debates and issues in the contemporary social scientific study of religion.2 The widespread and, for many, unexpected resurgence of religion in the public sphere over the last two or three decades has prompted a number of prominent social thinkers to reconsider the relationship between secularity and religion (e.g., Taylor, C. 2007; Taylor, M. 2007; Warner et al. 2010; Calhoun et al. 2011). For some this reconsideration has involved questioning the way secular assumptions are privileged over religious ones in the generation of the knowledge that informs our individual, social, and political identities and processes of decision making. Such privileging, it is argued, can result in some voices being excluded, some individuals and groups being aggrieved, and an overall impoverishment in the range of perspectives contributing to academic and cultural debate (e.g., Taylor 2009; Butler et al. 2011). Two of the most prominent thinkers who have expressed concerns along these lines are the German philosopher and sociologist Jürgen Habermas (b. 1929) and the Canadian philosopher and social thinker Charles Taylor (b. 1930), both of whom, in their different ways, have sought to address the problem by establishing greater parity between secular and religious perspectives (see especially Habermas 2008; Taylor, C. 2007). In the latter part of this paper I argue that Jung's dual secular and religious perspective is part of his own critique of the hegemony of naturalism and secularism and provide some indications of how the affinities between his position and those of Habermas and Taylor could open up possibilities for productive interdisciplinary conversation and collaboration between analytical psychology and at least some contemporary social science—a dialogue that hitherto has been little explored.

Secular

  1. Top of page
  2. AbstractT A
  3. Introduction
  4. Secular
  5. Religious
  6. Secular and religious
  7. The intrinsic doubleness of analytical psychology and the hegemony of naturalism in the social sciences
  8. References

Jung's self-identification as a scientist (e.g., 1938/1940, para. 2; 1976, p. 567) seems justified in relation to at least his early work on the word association experiments (Jung 1904–37), for which he gained international peer recognition (Shamdasani 2003, pp. 46–49). And as rigorous a scientific critic as Pauli could write even of Jung's later work that he was ‘certain that one day it will all be scientific psychology’ and that through it ‘the way was paved for an integration of the psychology of the unconscious into the natural sciences’ (quoted in Gieser 2005, pp. 165, 168). However, it has also been questioned whether Jung's method and theory, especially the elements of his later, distinctive model of analytical psychology, are not so thoroughly shot through with unscientific procedures, concepts, and arguments as to undermine their claim to scientific status (Heisig 1979, pp. 103–45).

One response to this charge of being unscientific could be that analytical psychology is a complex body of thought with different strands that it might be helpful to differentiate. A useful resource in exploring this possibility is J. Harley Chapman's book Jung's Three Theories of Religious Experience (1988). Chapman identifies within Jung's work three separate ways of explaining religious experience, which he terms Jung's scientific-psychological, phenomenological-mythological and metaphysical-theological theories. (I shall refer to these, more concisely, as Jung's scientific, phenomenological and metaphysical theories.) Chapman notes that, while the key texts articulating these three theories tend to be from Jung's earlier period in the case of his scientific theory, from his middle period in the case of the phenomenological theory, and from his last decade in the case of the metaphysical theory, each theory can also be seen as ‘present or recurring over a span of years and perhaps throughout his career’ (ibid., p. 6). If there are in Jung's work other theories than a strictly scientific one at play, it is not surprising that his work should in certain respects appear unscientific. But this should not preclude the possibility of a credible scientific theory operating within such a framework.

For Chapman, Jung's scientific theory, articulated above all in Psychology of the Unconscious [Transformations and Symbols of the Libido] (Jung, 1911–12), ‘The theory of psycho-analysis’ (1913), and ‘On psychic energy’ (1928), is governed by a model of the psyche as a stream of vital energy capable of manifestation in various forms and (in principle, measurable) intensities. Jung's goal with this theory is to explain the psyche and its manifestations (for Chapman, specifically religious experience) as part of the natural world and to do this through a process of ‘objective, critical inquiry—observation, classification, hypothesis, and empirical test’ (1988, p. 152). Chapman sees Jung as treating the object of investigation (experience of the god-image) as a ‘to some degree intersubjectively observable and verifiable’ datum, interpreting this datum ‘through comparison with other similar experiences with an eye toward grasping the regularity or necessity in [these compared] data’, and ultimately explaining the datum in terms of his libido theory as ‘a quantum of psychic energy’ (ibid., p. 153; see also pp. 3–4, 13–62).

Chapman does not evaluate how rigorously or effectively Jung applies this theory. Any such evaluation would be complicated by the coexistence alongside the scientific theory of what Chapman calls Jung's phenomenological theory. This theory, which Chapman considers to be articulated in Jung's works mainly between about 1930 and the middle 1950s (1988, p. 7), is governed by the model of an individual on a quest for wholeness. It is presented not from the viewpoint of a relatively impartial observer, as in the scientific theory, but from that of a totally engaged individual who does not just critically investigate but encounters and enters dialogue with numinous powers in the form of archetypal symbols and provides rich subjective descriptions of such encounters (1988, p. 153; see also pp. 4, 63–122).3 This framework clearly has a different goal from the scientific theory and involves a different kind of activity and a different relationship between subject and object (ibid., p. 4). Yet Jung himself seems to have conflated these theories. He saw the phenomenological aspect of his work as also scientific insofar as it dealt with ‘psychic events’ which are ‘observable facts’ (1976, p. 567). For him as a continental European, the term ‘scientific’ was not restricted, as he says it seems to be ‘in the Anglo-Saxon realm’, to ‘physical, chemical, and mathematical evidence only’ but encompassed ‘any kind of logical and systematic approach’ (ibid.), under which description he clearly considered his own phenomenological approach to be included. As he pronounced during a seminar to the Guild of Pastoral Psychology, London, in 1939: ‘Our science is phenomenology’ (1939, para. 692).

Whether or not the scientific and phenomenological theories as differentiated by Chapman are both in a sense ‘scientific’, both are, as Chapman accepts, empirical (1988, p. 155). For the purposes of the present paper, this is sufficient to establish that both can be taken as secular theories in the sense that they attempt to explain data without presupposing or referring to transcendent realities.

There are many strong contrasts between the scientific and phenomenological theories: for example, the one aims at generating knowledge of nature through critical investigation, the other at transforming the individual through numinous encounters; the objective, self-eliminating attitude and observational stance of the one contrasts with the subjective, self-involving attitude and participatory stance of the other; and explanation is provided in the one by a scientific hypothesis and in the other by a myth (Chapman 1988, p. 4). The co-existence within Jung's work of these two contrasting approaches already creates the possibility for certain kinds of doubleness: Jung as both scientist and therapist, for instance; or a dual focus on linear rationality on the one hand and holistic, symbolic modes of thought on the other. However, I am concerned in this paper with another, more fundamental doubleness: between the secular orientation implied by both the scientific and the phenomenological theories and the religious orientation implied by Jung's metaphysical theory.

Religious

  1. Top of page
  2. AbstractT A
  3. Introduction
  4. Secular
  5. Religious
  6. Secular and religious
  7. The intrinsic doubleness of analytical psychology and the hegemony of naturalism in the social sciences
  8. References

There are several significant hints that Jung found the scientific and phenomenological theories less than totally adequate, and there are moments too where, even in the face of his own disavowals, he implicitly draws on a metaphysical theory. These hints and moments, some of which I note below, are arguably prompted by the logic of Jung's emphasis on wholeness within his psychology. So long as he viewed religious phenomena only empirically, naturalistically, within a secular framework, he was voicing only part of what these phenomena have meant to people. The transcendental, metaphysical, specifically religious aspect of the phenomena, that which cannot be captured within a secular framework, also demands voice if the aim, as seems to have been Jung's aim, is to be true to human wholeness.

It is clear from his writings that Jung did not want to own up to having a metaphysical theory. He engaged extensively with metaphysical and religious subject matter but always, he claimed, as a psychologist, focusing on the empirical aspects of such subject matter, the fact and phenomenology of people's holding such views (1939/1954, paras. 759–60). Since the case for Jung's being a metaphysician is being made in the face of his own denials, some plausible account needs to be given of why he might have denied it and why he might be mistaken in this denial.

Jung's resistance to any description of his work as metaphysical almost certainly stems from his not wanting to jeopardize his standing as a scientist at a time when many new sciences, not least psychology, were struggling to differentiate themselves from philosophy (Shamdasani 2003, pp. 163–79). While Jung was keenly aware of the close relationship between psychology and philosophy—the two, he wrote, are ‘linked by indissoluble bonds’; ‘the one invariably furnishes the unspoken […] assumptions of the other’ (1931, para. 659)—and while he frequently referred to philosophers and philosophical issues in his publications, his understanding of metaphysics in particular as the antithesis of science caused him to be suspicious of it as an activity. Based on his reading of Kant, he tended to view metaphysics as, in Chapman's words, a form of ‘rootless rationalism’ that could provide only ‘empty knowledge, a “news from nowhere”’ (1988, pp. 135–36. and n. 34). Further, because in Jung's view philosophers who engage in metaphysics are unwittingly rationalizing archetypal experiences, there is a moral danger that they will reduce such experiences to conscious concepts and manipulate them carelessly, underestimating their autonomy and power (ibid., p. 136).

The metaphysical theory that Chapman nevertheless discerns in Jung's work, mainly evinced in texts and letters from Jung's last decade, is governed by a model of the human being as ‘a creature or splinter (“of the infinite deity”)’ (1988, p. 5). What Jung attempts to understand with this implicit metaphysical theory and to articulate through ontological reflection and confession is the ultimate (God as a reality) and our relationship to it (ibid., p. 4). The central thesis of the theory is that ‘the experience of the numinous archetype, especially of the central archetype of the self or God-image, is an experience of God the metaphysical ultimate’ (ibid., p. 123). Put more tentatively: ‘numinous data, well attested in the inner experience of many people across culture and history including contemporary experience, are ultimately best explained as the expression in the human psyche of the metaphysical ultimate’ (ibid., p. 124).

It is beyond the scope of the present paper to set out and evaluate all the evidence for Jung's having held, implicitly if not explicitly, a metaphysical theory. But an indication can be given of the kinds of evidence there are. For his part, Chapman enumerates five kinds of evidence, which cumulatively he considers sufficient to make the case. First are a number of direct statements. For example, on 1 October 1953 Jung wrote to Pastor Werner Niederer that ‘If one assumes that God affects the psychic background and activates it or actually is it, then the archetypes are, so to speak, organs (tools) of God’ (1976, p. 130). The context strongly suggests that Jung does make the assumption and draw the conclusion presented hypothetically here (Chapman 1988, p. 124; see further, pp.125–28).

Second is Jung's metaphysical rhetoric when writing about archetypes. By this Chapman means both Jung's drawing on the language of metaphysicians and theologians such as Plato, Augustine and Dionysius and his using the language of universality, immutability, and eternality (1988, pp. 128-29). In part, such rhetoric can be explained by Jung's ‘terminological conservatism’ and wish to use ‘language familiar to his educated readers’ (ibid., p. 128), and he generally hedges it around with ‘anti-metaphysical disclaimers’ (ibid., p. 129). But at times Jung seems to use such language not simply to describe empirical facts in old-fashioned terms but also to evoke elusive, metaphysical realities (1976, p. 70). As Chapman puts it:

Jung attempts both to explain and to disclose—to reach out to what is through self-restricted manipulating and expression of ideas and to let reality disclose itself through language (let Beingspeak’). Jung in part, therefore, is engaging in metaphysical rhetoric, and such rhetoric cannot be scrubbed clean of all metaphysical import.

(1988, p. 133; emphasis added)

Third is Jung's appeal to Kant to support his assertion that things-in-themselves (for Jung, archetypes-in-themselves) can be known only through their effects (for Jung, through archetypal images). On this Chapman quotes Edward Casey:

even if the real is to be judged only by its effects, to assert the existence of these effects (as Jung explicitly does) is necessarily to presume the reality of their archetypal cause, and thus to indulge in metaphysics despite Kant's and Jung's own warnings.

(quoted in Chapman 1988, p. 138)

Fourth is Jung's use of Rudolf Otto's concept of the numinous. While Jung attempts to use this concept immanently, Chapman argues that when, for example, Jung asserts to a correspondent that ‘the term “God” should only be applied in case of numinous inconceivability’ (Jung 1976, p. 512), he ends up ‘in agreement with Otto in placing God beyond any naturalistic framework such as psyche’ (Chapman 1988, p. 140).

Fifth and last of the kinds of evidence enumerated by Chapman is Jung's concern with theology and theologians. While not wishing to make theological assertions himself, Jung seemed willing for them to be made by theologians on the basis of his discoveries. ‘It would be a regrettable mistake’, Jung writes with typical caution, ‘if anybody should take my observations as a kind of proof of the existence of God. They prove only the existence of an archetypal God-image, which to my mind is the most we can assert about God psychologically’ (1938/1940, para. 102). He continues, however: ‘But as it is a very important and influential archetype, its relatively frequent occurrence seems to be a noteworthy fact for any theologia naturalis’ (ibid.). As Chapman comments, Jung's ‘going out of his way to point out to theologians how his discoveries could be used for their purposes [for example, as evidence supporting a natural theology] bespeaks some concern for, and some conviction of the legitimacy of, their enterprise’ (1988, p. 142).

To the evidence assembled by Chapman other evidence could be added. This might include statements in Jung's recently published Red Book (e.g., 2009, p. 339) and his acknowledgement of his interest in the ‘metaphysical aspect’ of synchronicity (1976, p. 344), an interest clearly evinced in his correspondence with Pauli (Meier 2001). It might also include his assertions, largely stemming from his thinking about synchronicity, that it is possible to have a kind of trans-empirical ‘absolute knowledge’ (1952, paras. 912, 923, 931, 948), that there is ‘a unitary aspect of being which can very well be described as the unus mundus’ (1955-56, para. 662), and that the psyche ‘exists in a continuum outside time and space’ and ‘possesses relative eternity’ (1976, p. 561; cf. 1963, pp. 335–36). Again, it might include his willingness to admit the promptings of intuition and feeling, as well as of thinking, in making judgements on the putative reality of spirits (1920/1948, para. 600) and his even concluding late in life that ‘the spirit hypothesis’ (that is, the hypothesis that spirits are real) provides a better explanation of spiritualistic phenomena than a purely psychological explanation, or indeed any other kind (1973, p. 431). Finally, it might include Jung's practice of engaging in metaphysical speculations—for example, about life after death or the meaning of life (1963, pp. 330-88)—and then trying to excuse them on the grounds that he is really just mythologizing and thereby fulfilling ‘a psychic need which is part of our mental hygiene’ (1976, p. 449; 1963, pp. 330, 373).

All of this evidence may need to be more fully considered, but prima facie there seems good reason to accept that there is an implicit metaphysical aspect to Jung's work, perhaps even (as Chapman maintains) a coherent metaphysical theory within it, and therefore that his psychological model, as well as being secular, is also religious in the sense of presupposing or referring to transcendent realities. Having established, then, that both a secular and a religious understanding of Jung's psychological model are possible, we next need to consider what evidence there is that Jung advocated valuing both of these understandings equally.

Secular and religious

  1. Top of page
  2. AbstractT A
  3. Introduction
  4. Secular
  5. Religious
  6. Secular and religious
  7. The intrinsic doubleness of analytical psychology and the hegemony of naturalism in the social sciences
  8. References

Jung writes in his paper ‘Basic postulates of analytical psychology’ that ‘In practical psychotherapy we strive to fit people for life, and we are not free to set up theories which do not concern our patients and may even injure them’ (1931, para. 678). He continues:

Here we come to a question that is sometimes a matter of life and death—the question whether we base our explanations on ‘physis’ or spirit. We must never forget that everything spiritual is illusion from the naturalistic standpoint, and that often the spirit has to deny and overcome an insistent physical fact in order to exist at all. If I recognize only naturalistic values, and explain everything in physical terms, I shall depreciate, hinder, or even destroy the spiritual development of my patients. And if I hold exclusively to a spiritual interpretation, then I shall misunderstand and do violence to the natural man in his right to exist as a physical being.

(ibid.)

He advocates that the modern psychologist should occupy ‘neither the one position nor the other’ but stand ‘between the two, dangerously committed to “this as well as that”’ (ibid., para. 679).

This openness to both material and spiritual interpretations captures what I mean by Jung's dual secular and religious perspective. In his use of the expressions ‘injure’, ‘matter of life and death’, ‘destroy’, ‘do violence’, and ‘dangerously committed’ Jung may be suggesting the sharpness of the conflict one must endure to occupy this dual perspective—as he himself seems to have suffered this tension between his commitments to both science and religion. It is not just a case of someone's being a secular scientist by profession and having religious views in private, or of their being traditionally religious and having to practise their faith in a predominantly secular, science-oriented environment. Rather, it is a case of having to endure not only the intellectual recognition but also the personal experience of a deep and pervasive ontological ambivalence concerning the existence of material and spiritual realities and their respective claims upon one.4

Jung acknowledges that the position he is advocating presents a ‘very difficult problem’: ‘How’, he writes, ‘should anything but a formless and aimless uncertainty result from giving equal value to two contradictory hypotheses?’ (1931, para. 679). Some will consider such a position simply incoherent, others a wilful avoidance of commitment, and hence both an intellectual and a moral weakness.5 But Jung, for whom maintaining the tension between opposites was one of the most morally demanding and needful of tasks (1917/1926/1943, paras. 34, 78, 115, 119), would have championed the value of such paradox.

There is, however, another possible problem with Jung's position, at least in relation to the argument I am trying to develop in this paper. This is that, in justifying the double perspective he presents in ‘Basic postulates’, he draws on an explicitly psychic ontology. He appeals to psychic reality as ‘our only immediate experience’ (1931, para. 680) and argues that it is from this perspective that physical and spiritual realities can be equally affirmed:

it seems to us that certain psychic contents or images are derived from a ‘material’ environment to which our bodies belong, while others, which are in no way less real, seem to come from a ‘spiritual’ source which appears to be very different from the physical environment. Whether I picture to myself the car I wish to buy or try to imagine the state in which the soul of my dead father now is—whether it is an external fact or a thought that concerns me—both happenings are psychic reality. The only difference is that one psychic happening refers to the physical world, and the other to the spiritual world.

(ibid., para. 681)

Insofar as Jung sees the psyche as part of nature and recognizes spiritual manifestations only as psychic images, his position arguably retains a naturalistic, secular bias. In other words, he treats psychic images, including those with a putative spiritual source, as phenomena and hence as empirical; he is in the position where he can disclaim any wish or ability to make assertions about spiritual reality itself.

In response to this problem, the case made earlier for Jung's having a metaphysical theory lurking among and behind his empirical (scientific and phenomenological) theories could be re-invoked. For example, Jung's language does seem to imply that the spiritual world, which he sees as the source of the relevant psychic images about the state of the soul of his dead father, actually exists. But there would still remain a question whether in privileging the psyche in the way he does Jung is not at the same time privileging the empirical and secular over the trans-empirical and religious. It is therefore worth noting the manner in which, prompted by Pauli, Jung later clarified his view of reality.

In a letter of 31 March 1953 Pauli took issue with Jung's privileging of the psyche and argued for equal treatment not, it is true, of spirit but of the other source of psychic images recognized by Jung: matter—the object of Pauli's discipline of physics (Meier 2001, pp. 102–11). In response Jung (4 May 1953), while continuing to maintain that ‘the psychic aspect of reality is to all intents and purposes the most important one’ (ibid., p. 115), clarified his view that psyche grasps only the ascertainable aspect of matter, psyche, and (he adds) spirit. But matter, psyche, and spirit also have a non-ascertainable, transcendental aspect (ibid., pp. 111–17). This implies that, for Jung, what is ascertainable by the psyche and hence naturalistic is only part of reality. Beyond that, he postulates a non-ascertainable, transcendental aspect of reality. Notable too is that in this model the psyche, which does the ascertaining, itself has a non-ascertainable aspect. There is thus a transcendental aspect implied in the psyche that obtains naturalistic knowledge.

Furthermore, in response to another letter from Pauli (27 May 1953), Jung (24 October 1953) clearly articulates his position in terms that can be understood as a form of dual-aspect monism: psyche, including spirit, and matter, including the body, are seen as aspects of an underlying transcendental reality (Meier 2001, pp. 125–26).6 Jung had expressed the kernel of this idea already in his 1926 essay ‘Spirit and life’, before his contact with Pauli: ‘Mind and body’, or ‘“spirit” and “living being”’, he writes there, might be ‘the expression of a single entity whose essential nature is not knowable’ (1926, paras. 619, 621). Prompted by Pauli, however, Jung began to give clearer published expression to the idea, for instance in the final version of his paper ‘On the nature of the psyche’ (1947/1954):

Since psyche and matter are contained in one and the same world, and moreover are in continuous contact with one another and ultimately rest on irrepresentable, transcendental factors, it is not only possible but fairly probable, even, that psyche and matter are two different aspects of one and the same thing.

(ibid., para. 418; see also 1955-56, para. 662)

For the present paper, the important point is that all of these formulations—adopting a standpoint between material and spiritual interpretations; acknowledging the non-ascertainable as well as the ascertainable aspect of matter, psyche, and spirit; and articulating a version of dual-aspect monism—can be understood as attempts to value the transcendental and religious alongside and equally with the naturalistic and secular.

While Jung's secular and religious perspectives can in principle be distinguished from each other, as shown by Chapman's exercise of differentiating Jung's three theories of religious experience, in practice and arguably in intention the two perspectives coexist and are both embedded not just in the general orientation of Jung's psychology but also in each of its core concepts. The concept of the archetype, for instance, draws on both scientific and empirical sources (for example, biology and physics) and religious and metaphysical sources (for example, Platonic philosophy and Augustinian theology), and it is explicitly characterized by Jung as having both an instinctual pole and a spiritual pole (1947/1954, paras. 397–420). Similarly with the concept of synchronicity: influenced by physics and experimental parapsychology on the one hand and by anomalous and mystical experiences and traditions of divination on the other (Main 2004, pp. 65–90, 105–06), Jung referred to it both as an ‘empirical concept’ (1952, para. 960) and as the kernel of numinous and religious experiences (McGuire & Hull 1978, p. 230). Similarly again for the concepts of the collective unconscious, symbol, individuation, and the self: each of these in large part stems from empirical observation and various natural scientific and social scientific assumptions at the same time as from metaphysical and religious traditions, and each while describing empirical phenomena also presupposes an aspect of reality that is intelligent, purposeful, and irreducible to material, social, or cultural terms (Main 2008, pp. 372–73).

The intrinsic doubleness of analytical psychology and the hegemony of naturalism in the social sciences

  1. Top of page
  2. AbstractT A
  3. Introduction
  4. Secular
  5. Religious
  6. Secular and religious
  7. The intrinsic doubleness of analytical psychology and the hegemony of naturalism in the social sciences
  8. References

As we have seen, when Jung explicitly articulated a dual secular and religious perspective in ‘Basic postulates’, he did so with the primarily psychotherapeutic aim of ensuring that he was positioned to respond to his patients’ experiences in their own terms, whether material or spiritual. Significantly, however, Jung introduces his discussion of this point within a much wider field of social, cultural, and philosophical considerations. He reflects on the ‘unexampled revolution in man's outlook’ which led ‘a metaphysics of the mind [to be] supplanted in the nineteenth century by a metaphysics of matter’, resulting in exclusive adherence to naturalistic principles when attempting to account for human behaviour, society, and culture (1931, paras. 649–59): ‘Otherworldliness’, he writes, ‘is converted into matter-of-factness; empirical boundaries are set to every discussion of man's motivations, to his aims and purposes, and even to the assignment of “meaning”’ (ibid., para. 651). He notes both the value and the problems of the former exclusively spiritual understanding and of the current exclusively material understanding of the human being and looks for a way of respecting both understandings (ibid., paras. 652–77). Importantly, Jung does not believe that either understanding can be ultimately grounded, ‘for no chain of reasoning can prove or disprove the existence of either mind or matter’ (ibid., para. 650). The dominance of one kind of understanding or another is a matter of historical bias, of which we would do well to be critical. In relation to the current bias:

We delude ourselves with the thought that we know much more about matter than about a ‘metaphysical’ mind or spirit, and so we overestimate material causation and believe that it alone affords us a true explanation of life. But matter is just as inscrutable as mind. As to the ultimate things we can know nothing, and only when we admit this do we return to a state of equilibrium.

(ibid., para. 657)

From this position Jung's development of a dual secular and religious perspective can be seen as part of his critique of the bias of his age, correcting its one-sided emphasis on secular principles of explanation and sources of insight alone. Hence, even while priding himself on being a scientist, Jung was throughout his life critical of what he saw as the one-sidedness of scientific rationalism, which, especially in his late paper ‘The undiscovered self (present and future)’ (1957), he identified as the root cause of such personal, social, and political problems of modernity as the loss of meaning, mass-mindedness, and totalitarianism (ibid., paras. 488–504; see also Main 2004, pp. 117–29, 135–42).

As noted at the beginning of this paper, Jung's concern with the hegemony of naturalism and secularism and its adverse social and political consequences is shared by a number of prominent contemporary social theorists, including Jürgen Habermas and Charles Taylor, each of whom has attempted, in terms not dissimilar to Jung's, to address the issue by establishing greater parity between secular and religious perspectives.7 Habermas and Taylor have both written extensively about the relationship between secularity and religiousness in the context of the resurgence of religion in the public sphere; indeed, they have publicly debated with each other on these issues (Butler et al. 2011, pp. 15–69). To my knowledge, neither thinker engages with Jung's work or has previously been connected with it (except, in the case of Taylor, in some of my own recent publications [2011, 2013]). In connecting them now I have two main aims: first, to ground further my argument for the social (in addition to clinical) importance of the kind of dual religious and secular perspective I have identified in Jung's work; and second, to suggest that the issue of how to address the hegemony of naturalism, especially through the development of such a dual secular and religious perspective, might provide one locus for exploring possible productive engagements between analytical psychology and the social sciences.

Habermas

Habermas is perhaps best known for his work pioneering the study of ‘the public sphere’ as ‘a social space […] in which individuals could engage each other as private citizens deliberating about the common good’ (Mendieta & VanAntwerpen 2011, p. 2). However, he later acknowledged that this work paid insufficient attention to religion, and over the last decade or so he has published a series of essays (2008; Habermas et al. 2010) arguing that the conflict between adherents of naturalism and adherents of religion ‘jeopardize[s] the cohesion of the polity through ideological polarization when neither side exhibits a willingness to engage in self-reflection’ (2008, p. 2). His proposed solution is to foster a culture in which ‘religious and secular citizens [are] willing to listen and to learn from each other in public debates’ (ibid., p. 3). For this to be realized, he argues, it is necessary that religious citizens should translate their insights from ‘religious idioms into a generally intelligible language’ and that secular citizens should co-operate in facilitating this translation (ibid., p. 5). Such co-operation requires ‘reflexive overcoming of secularistic consciousness’—that is, a becoming aware on the part of secularists of the limitations of their perspective—comparable to the process which has been taking place within religious consciousness in the modern era (ibid., pp. 6, 140–47). Underpinning this proposal is Habermas's advocacy of what he calls ‘postmetaphysical thinking’. Such thinking, which he describes as ‘fallibilist but non-defeatist’ (ibid., p. 6), ‘differentiates itself from both sides [i.e., ‘the secularism of the scientific worldview’ and ‘religious doctrines’ (ibid., p. 5)] by reflecting on its own limits—and on its inherent tendency to overstep these limits. It is as wary of naturalistic syntheses founded on science as it is of revealed truths’ (ibid., p. 6; see also pp. 140–43, 245–46).

From Jung's dual secular and religious perspective, the conflict between naturalism and religion, the resulting risk of polarization, the imperative to listen to and learn from the other, the aim of maximizing intelligibility, and the need for reflection on the limits of secularism would all be understood similarly. But Jung's perspective might prompt further reflection on the process that Habermas envisages of translation from religious to secular idioms. First, it might raise a question mark over the continued privileging of the secular as providing the language into which religious insights should be translated. Somewhere down the line such privileging of the secular is likely to present an obstacle to the kind of listening and learning that Habermas would like to foster. Jung's own language was purposely ambiguous (1976, p. 70) and, as we have seen, his core concepts—such as collective unconscious, symbol, archetype, individuation, self, and synchronicity—embed religious as well as secular assumptions and insights. While specifically Jungian terminology is unlikely to be more acceptable than religious language as a medium for public debate, Jung's practice does exemplify the possibility of the desired parity between the secular and religious being embedded in language and might encourage other attempts to achieve this in language relevant to whatever particular field is under consideration. Habermas, for instance, acknowledges that ‘modern forms of thought’, even postmetaphysical thinking, include ‘the religious traditions alongside metaphysics in [their] own genealogy’ (2008, p. 6; see also pp. 141–42). By elucidating the ‘internal connections’ between modern thought and religious traditions that make up this genealogy, as Habermas in fact recommends (ibid., p. 6), it may be possible to develop a language use that, like Jung's, is in effect able to evoke the religious equally with the secular.8

Second, Habermas's use of the notion of ‘translation’ seems to imply, as Craig Calhoun has argued, ‘a highly cognitive model of understanding’, overlooking the ways in which meanings can have ‘inarticulate connections’, for example by being embedded in ‘broader cultural understandings, personal experiences, and practices of argumentation that themselves have somewhat different understanding in different domains’ (2011, p. 85). Habermas also seems to pay insufficient attention to the fact that the kind of mutual understanding he is promoting ‘cannot be achieved without change in one or both of the parties’–that is, without ‘a process of transformation’ that is ‘not entirely rational’ (ibid., p. 86). A dual secular and religious perspective based on analytical psychology might suggest ways beyond these limitations inasmuch as the process of analytical psychology inherently involves both non-linguistic, non-rational modes of representation and communication and the possibility, even necessity, of transformation of the communicating partners.

Taylor

Taylor, like Habermas, is deeply concerned with the social and political problem of how to manage the diversity of modern societies–diversity not only between but also among adherents of the multitude of secular and religious positions available within modern democracies. His aim, he has said, is to create a framework that would ensure three things: maximum freedom for people (believers or unbelievers) to express their deepest convictions, equality of respect among the various positions held, and maximum input by all parties into social, cultural, and political debates (2009). He envisages that such a framework could promote among all parties a conversation about diversity conducted in a spirit of ‘friendship’, which, rather than just leading to intellectual assent and accommodation, ‘incorporates the kind of understanding where each can come to be moved by what moves the other’ (2010, p. 320). Unlike Habermas, Taylor does not expect there to be different requirements of religious citizens than of secular citizens in terms of their needing to translate their insights into a neutral language of public debate (2011, pp. 48–51). This difference stems from Taylor's understanding of secularity. While he agrees with most contemporary social thinkers that the modern western world is predominantly secular, a condition he refers to as ‘the immanent frame’ (2007, p. 594), he defines secularity in terms of cultural diversity and religion's ceasing to be the default position rather than in terms of the decline or privatization of religion (ibid., p. 3). He also sees secularity as an historical construction every bit as much as any form or facet of religion may be. Secularity is not, he argues against the common assumption of secularists, a truth that is left over once the illusions of religion have been subtracted. Nor does it exclude the possibility of religious options (ibid., p. 594). In Taylor's ‘secular age’, while the immanent frame predominates as a historical fact in the West, both secular and religious standpoints are possible, and there are no ‘undeniable arguments’ supporting one kind of position over the other (ibid. p. 600). Accordingly, for his purposes of promoting conversation and managing diversity, Taylor especially values the capacity to inhabit what he refers to as the ‘open space’ between the conflicting claims of transcendence and immanence, a space where one cannot just intellectually grasp but ‘actually feel some of the force of the opposing positions’ (ibid., p. 549).

Taylor's advocacy of openness to and equal valuation of both secular and religious perspectives and of remaining equally exposed to the pulls of both transcendence and immanence closely resembles the double perspective of analytical psychology that I have been discussing—not least in Taylor's awareness of the practical as well as theoretical value of such a perspective and the extreme difficulty of maintaining it. As such, Taylor's account of secularity arguably provides a sociological framework with which analytical psychology could fruitfully engage (Main 2013). In any such engagement, what the double perspective of analytical psychology might be able to add to Taylor's outlook is a fuller account of and greater sensitivity to the psychodynamics involved in the issues he discusses. Taylor acknowledges depth psychology as a potential source of insights (2007, p. 623), but he remains sceptical about its value for his specific concerns and discusses it only cursorily. His reservation stems from his understanding of depth psychology as a ‘purely immanentist’ approach, which involves ‘repudiation of, or at least distancing from, any aspirations to the transcendent’, tends to ‘speak of pathology alone’ to the neglect of ‘spiritual or ethical hermeneutics’, and thus ‘as a total metaphysic […] risks generating perverse results’ in that ‘its attempts to treat our ailments can end up further stifling the spirit in us’ (ibid., pp. 622–23). Since analytical psychology, as I have been arguing, is not purely secular or ‘immanentist’ but equally considers the transcendent and spiritual, it ought to escape these reservations, which are based primarily on Taylor's consideration of psychoanalysis (ibid., p. 621). In relation to Taylor's concern with managing diversity and promoting conversation, analytical psychology might be drawn on to provide psychodynamic insights into, for example, the propensity for unconscious identification with a particular secular or religious position; the risks of mutual projection among adherents of opposed positions; the possible compensatory relationship between secular and religious identities; or the way views can be problematically masked by the interplay of personae.

The preceding discussions of Habermas and Taylor show that Jung's dual secular and religious perspective and its underpinning criticism of the hegemony of naturalism are not too far removed from some of the concerns of prominent contemporary social theorists. Recognition of this perspective in Jung's work might therefore help in opening dialogues between analytical psychology and at least some areas of social scientific work. Of course, many issues remain. There would need to be much more detailed comparative studies of analytical psychology vis-à-vis the work of the social theorists. It would need to be shown that any putative contributions from analytical psychology to the social sciences actually have payoffs in the sense of generating insights that could not be arrived at so effectively by other means. And it would need to be borne in mind that the dual secular and religious character of analytical psychology for which I have been arguing is just one among several of the distinctive features of analytical psychology. Whether the other features which any deployment of analytical psychology would bring in its train—for example, its assumption of a collective as well as personal unconscious, its understanding of symbolic expression, its inclusion of teleological psychic processes, and its recognition of a principle of acausal connection—should be viewed as further obstacles to the acceptance of analytical psychology in the social sciences, or as additional distinctive resources to be explored, is a question for future work.

  1. 1

    Elsewhere I have noted the deep interconnection between the notions of the sacred and the secular implied in Jung's thought and how from the perspective of the unconscious as Jung understands it these notions may be referring to the same underlying unitary reality (2008, pp. 380–81). For the purposes of the present paper, however, the important task is to clarify Jung's relationship to the secular and religious as I have here concisely differentiated and defined them.

  2. 2

    In previous publications I have deployed the notion of Jung's thought being both secular and religious to understand the deeply polarizing mutual projection that can occur between adherents of extreme secular and religious positions, including in the academic study of religious fundamentalism (2006, 2013); to comprehend better the subjectivity of contemporary individuals for whom a putatively spiritual aspect of their sense of self, alongside its naturalistic aspect, is a major source of energy, cohesion, commitment, and value, as for example in much holistic spirituality (2008); and to explore some of the dynamics underlying the widespread cultural processes of disenchantment and re-enchantment (2011, 2013). In none of these works have I had the space to explain as fully as I shall do so here the grounds on which I attribute this dual secular and religious perspective to Jung.

  3. 3

    For further discussion of Jung and phenomenology, see Brooke 1991, 2000; Gieser 2005, pp. 159–66. Suzanne Gieser argues that Jung's characterization of his psychology as phenomenological was prompted by Pauli, who in turn was influenced by Ernst Mach (ibid., pp. 159–60). Jung seems not to have been directly influenced by Edmund Husserl's work (Brooke 2000, pp. 1–7; Gieser 2005, p. 160).

  4. 4

    Charles Taylor has given an evocative account of how this tension and ambivalence were vividly experienced by William James (see Taylor 2002, pp. 52–59).

  5. 5

    Max Weber, for example, would probably have viewed it as avoidance and weakness (see Weber 1918, p. 155; Main 2013).

  6. 6

    This philosophical position, as it was intimated and elaborated in the works of Jung and Pauli, has recently been explicated by William Seager (2009) and Harald Atmanspacher (2012).

  7. 7

    Two other social scientists whose work would be worth exploring in relation to the present theme are the British sociologist Margaret Archer (b. 1943) and the Dutch anthropologist and scholar of religions André Droogers (b. 1941). Archer takes issue with the way that ‘Throughout their history the social sciences have privileged atheism’, presenting it ‘as an epistemologically neutral position, instead of what it is, a commitment to a belief in the absence of religious phenomena’ (2004, p. 63). In an attempt to address this she and some colleagues ‘try to establish a level playing field between religious and secular ideas’ (Archer et al. 2004, pp. ix–x), which in her particular case involves arguing for a critical realist conception of the human being which ‘does not rule out the possibility of authentic human relations with the divine in advance’ (2004, p. 64). Droogers finds the existing methodological options available in religious studies, both the privileged approach of reductionism (naturalism) and the alternative approach of religionism, inadequate to explain certain religious phenomena he has encountered in his anthropological fieldwork (1996, pp. 44–52). He therefore develops a third approach, ‘methodological ludism’, which involves ‘the capacity to deal simultaneously and subjunctively [i.e., ‘as if’ true] with two or more ways of classifying reality’ (ibid., p. 53), specifically with secular and religious perspectives together.

  8. 8

    The development of a ‘neutral language’ was a concern of Pauli's that recurred in his correspondence with Jung (Meier 2001, pp. 35, 40, 66–67, 80, 82, 105–06, 111–12, 117; see also Jung 1952, para. 960). The neutrality sought was primarily between physical and psychic interpretations, but, as the discussion earlier in this paper indicates, spiritual interpretations were also implicated.

References

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  2. AbstractT A
  3. Introduction
  4. Secular
  5. Religious
  6. Secular and religious
  7. The intrinsic doubleness of analytical psychology and the hegemony of naturalism in the social sciences
  8. References
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