Deus : Absolute : Logos

“Called or not, the Gods will be present.” Jung had that saying in Latin over his front door. Carved in stone. So we may as well serve. Willingly. That’s how I understand the human will, it just means to do the stuff you have to go through willingly.

James Hillman

Oracle of Delphi

It goes without saying that if there were nothing beyond consciousness there would be no Absolute, nothing perhaps but eternal archetypes – Plato’s pagan view in fact. Jung, of course, never claimed his archetypes were eternal, and thus he was no Platonist. But the fact he does not address anything beyond archetypes brings us to the point at which Jung’s vision and experience fail him. At this point his paradigm closes in on itself and never breaks out of its self imposed circle.

Despite this unfortunate closure, however, I agree with Jung that consciousness or the psyche is man’s unique medium of knowing and experiencing, and that it delimits the entire human field of knowledge and experience, including scientific knowledge and religious experience. As consciousness is first and foremost a subjective experience, this experience is the study of self as object to itself, the primary concern of science is sensory objects or observable phenomena. Jung’s insistence that his psychology was a science confuses two different objects – scientific objects and self as objects to itself. Confusing the nature of these two objects and their mode of study is reflected in the limitations of Jung’s psychology.

Jung’s insistence that his psychology was science was actually his excuse for not dealing with an Absolute or God and all this implies. By avoiding an Absolute he could avoid coming into conflict with various religions while wandering freely in their sacred domain interpreting everything as he saw fit – all in the name of “science” of course! His excuse was that if he affirmed an Absolute his psychology would become metaphysical theory, and since he had no credibility as a metaphysician or as a religious individual he sought scientific status for his totally subjective meanderings and theories. That anyone can honestly regard Jung’s psychology as scientific, or fail to see that is paradigm reflects his own religious unbelief, is evidence that he has been hoodwinked by a very clever intellect. Because Jung could not deal with an Absolute, God or religion, he strove to present us with a paradigm of human experience without an Absolute, without religion, theology or metaphysics, a psychology that does not necessitate any Absolute beyond our self-experiences. This would not have been so bad if he had not stolen everything from religion and its theology and then reinterpreted its truths, beliefs and experiences into a nonreligious, non-Absolute paradigm.

Jung stole his notion of self from Hinduism supposedly to translate it into the Western mentality, yet his unconscious self bears no resemblance to Atman-Brahman. That we think it does is his lasting disservice to both East and West. In order to give “meaning” (his own meaning) to Christianity that otherwise held no meaning for him, Jung stole its experience of transformation (death, resurrection, transfiguration) and presented it to us in Gnostic archetypal form, a form that has never been representative of authentic Christian mysticism. His stated purpose in all this, to make religion more meaningful, was nothing more than a sly excuse for offering an alternative to religion; as he said, he went in search of meaning because religion held no meaning for him. Our finding meaning where he found none does not indicate his charitable motives. Rather, it demonstrates his conscious and unconscious intent to dismantle traditional religion in order to offer his psychic interpretations instead. For some very personal, deep-seated reason Jung was in competition with religion, not in sympathy with it. His hoodwinking many in the name of giving meaning to our beliefs reveal the almost sinister power he wields over the weaker mentalities.

While we are glad Jung found some meaning within the confines of his individual psyche, we have to remember that searching our psyches is no guarantee of coming upon ultimate Truth. In its own right the psyche is quite empty of Truth, which is why it fills in its own truth to compensate for what it does not innately have. All subjective truth is of the psyche’s own making, which is why our religious Truths, standing outside ourselves, are a continuous challenge to the psyche. Truth is difficult to come upon because it is difficult to face; it disrupts our psyche and its comfortable notions and experiences of truth, whereas the nature of ultimate Truth is to keep us going – to bother us even. It is a thousand times easier to deny Truth or reinterpret it to suit ourselves than to have to face it. If Ultimate Truth is not larger than ourselves and our limited psyches, then Truth is anything we care to think it is, in which case there is no Absolute, no ultimate or objective Truth.

In conclusion, Jung’s psychology is a science only so long as it eschews an Absolute, God and all religion; as soon as an Absolute is adopted, we have a metaphysical and not a “scientific” psychology. From this it is clear that Jung’s insistent claim to be scientific depended on no Absolute, and explains why this paradigm lacks any ultimate Truth.

Bernadette Roberts

Gospel of John

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