Truth is not some simple statement of fact, but a flower that opens gently, never to cease in that opening, like a lotus whose petals are infinite. It is the process of opening, of blooming, that reveals a little bit more, from behind the veil. Truth is a living thing, and in that, it is really a process of unfolding. In our observation, in our openness to truth, the energy behind that opening is supplied. We are part of truth – truth does not sit outside of us to be perceived and set down.
I have been reading and writing for some time and I have come to a thesis that explains a great deal for me and I hope for others. I will continue to develop this thesis. This is my purpose here, and will continue to be in the future.
For me, this begins and ends with Carl Jung, although nothing ever ends. His genius led me to the ideas that I outline here, and then I circle back to Jung, always back to Jung. As I have said before, I consider Jung to be the most important thinker of the last five hundred years. He brought together wisdom from the past and made much greater sense of it, as he integrated it, as well as making countless unique contributions that are breath-taking in scope.
I am addressing five broad subjects here that form the basis of my thesis, but they all boil down to a central idea that can be expressed by two words. But those two words require explanation before their meaning and significance begin to become clear.
Consciousness First – I have written about this before, but it is fundamental and not given the serious consideration it deserves, because modern materialist science, based upon the opposite axiom, dismisses it to the point of ridicule. Existence either begins with matter that leads to life and consciousness, or existence begins with consciousness that leads to matter. Materialist science presupposes that existence begins with matter because this metaphysical starting point cannot be avoided. Matter obviously seems to exist and so does consciousness, although there are some who deny that consciousness is anything more than an illusion – an invention of our mental processes. Materialist science would like to pretend that the issue is not a serious one. It is a serious question that I have discussed and will further. In any case, I start with consciousness.
Deep Evolution – Evolution, as a process, is apparently operative throughout life. Evolution, as a concept, really got started with Darwin, and now an accepted part of the field of biology. Very broadly, evolution sees entities changing over time in order to increase the chances of surviving. Changes that enhance survival and reproduction tend to remain and prosper, while those changes that cause problems for survival and reproduction tend to die out. This idea of successful changes lasting and unsuccessful changes not, is a very simplistic sketch of natural selection. Evolution does not answer how these changes come about and evolution, as a theory to explain the development of life, is much more controversial than one would think by reading the status quo materialist science position. I am embracing a very broad notion of evolution that I call deep evolution. I use this to encompass evolution from the cellular, biochemical, gene level, through the level of the individual human level, up to the social, cultural and species level. This means that my notion of the causes of this deep evolution includes everything from random mutations of genes up to the conscious and unconscious intent of conscious agents. And simple survival and reproduction may not be the only drivers or measure of success.
Carl Jung – Jung allows us to understand and give meaning to our psychological challenges and neuroses. He opened up the avenues to the great storehouses of knowledge that are to be found in the collective unconscious, the archetypes, dreams, mythology, symbols and art. Scientific materialism minimizes the importance of these – or simply dismisses them completely as irrelevant to human knowledge and experience. Yet both humanity and most individuals face greater challenges than ever before, while living in a world of untold abundance and greater knowledge than ever before. But this knowledge is anchored in Logos. Logos has come to dominate. Obviously there is something wrong and Jung directed our attention to the problem, and more importantly to the solutions and challenges in meeting our destiny and purpose. Jung saw that we were, and are, ignoring enormous sources of wisdom and knowledge that we must make conscious.
The Divided Brain – A wonderful book and idea that dovetails beautifully with Jung and his ideas is The Master And His Emmisary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western Worldby Iain McGilchrist who looks at the science and poetry behind the differences between the two hemispheres of the brain. He goes beyond the earlier simplistic analysis of the divided brain where the left side is logical and scientific and the right side is emotional and artistic. He makes a good argument, based on numerous findings, for the two very different approaches toward our world, used by the left and right brain hemispheres. The left side is biased toward manipulating the world, seeing the world in parts and toward non-living entities. The right side is biased toward understanding the world, as a whole – the big picture, and towards living entities. Both sides clearly work together, but McGilchrist finds it telling that the brain is split into two halves that do communicate, rather than a single brain. Each half is capable of “running the show” without the other half, as experiments and case studies show, but the results confirm the different approaches taken by the two brains. McGilchrist’s book is much too important and too detailed to discuss only here. McGilchrist is a psychiatrist and literary scholar. His book includes references to Jung, unsurprisingly to me. He believes that our Western culture has allowed ourselves to become dominated by the left hemisphere in our thinking and our approach to life, which leads to the central point of my thesis…
Eros Rises – I see the approach of the two brain hemispheres as largely mirroring the concept of Eros in the right hemisphere and Logos in the left hemisphere. I have written of these two central concepts before. I agree with McGilchrist that the natural dominating hemisphere is the right – that of Eros. Our current problems are largely due to the dominance of the left hemisphere and Logos. Scientific, materialist, rationalism has taken control of our institutions, most of our thinking, and the way we lead our lives. Logos is not wrong, but it’s limited view is meant to be the servant, not the master. Our egos have been taken over by Logos, and Eros has been pushed aside. Logos is more associated with the masculine energy and Eros with the feminine energy. Now where I part company with many people, is when I look at the reasons and consequences for this current imbalance. I see the rise and dominance of Logos as being an evolutionary feature of humanity – a feature of our deep evolution. Eros would likely have been largely dominant for most of the time of humanity, although this can never be one-sided and is speculative on my part. But I believe that Logos and our left brain had to become much more active as part of our evolution in service to our long-term interests and our deep evolution. The dominance of Logos has not been a mistake, but it has been a temporary development in our deep evolution – almost like the wild exuberance of adolescence that is a necessary feature of reaching maturity, in an unsustainable recklessness to assert authority over one’s self, as one leaves childhood dependence behind, until that wild individualism can be integrated with the demands of adulthood to become a strong, independent, and responsible human. Eros did not go away – it can never go away. It has remained active in our consciousness and even more active in our unconscious, through the collective unconscious, mythology, dreams, archetypes, symbols, and art – precisely as Jung set out. Eros could no more be defeated or subjugated than life itself, because Eros is the chaos out of which life begins, and is the ultimate source of creation.
The dominance of Logos that developed over the last few thousand years has been gradual, but accelerating, and now we are reaching the end-game of that dominance. That is why we are experiencing such disruption in our lives as individuals, in cultures and in humanity as a whole. Eros is not going to “defeat” Logos, or marginalize it. Logos is too valuable and too important to be diminished like that. And in evolution, nothing can be lost – it is only transformed. To think that Logos needs to be defeated or fixed in some way is itself Logos thinking. Eros knows better. Eros is stronger, through it’s natural importance and centrality to life. Eros will assert itself within us and in the social sphere as it is doing so now. People will fight that as they are now, as they always have done, but deep evolution, life and Eros will not be denied. The broad sweep and the river of deep evolution will continue and integrate Logos, which is much stronger now than it used to be, with an Eros that becomes stronger still and more conscious. The ego will be tamed and integrated. Logos will not be weakened and has nothing to fear, although the ego and Logos are and will be very afraid of their demise in the short run. The ego and Logos largely see the world in terms of victory or defeat. Eros knows better and will rise to become stronger and return to centrality in our lives, but we will reach a new age where there is greater balance between Eros and Logos than humanity has ever experienced before. This will be the next major stage of the evolution of human consciousness – the divine marriage of Eros and Logos, between the energies of femininity and masculinity.
My use of the terms Logos and Eros is very broad and inclusive. I am treating them as two very large poles that subsume a large number of processes, attitudes. styles, ways of being etc. I am using them simplistically in many ways. Everything does not simply neatly fit into one category or the other. But I think it is a very useful way to see the world and our challenges within it. When I read Jung, or one of his serious students, I am struck by the obvious fact that almost all the problems delineated are due to a relative excess of Logos and a shortage of Eros, that often manifests as the denial of Eros or its remaining unconscious and not being available to the consciousness of the person or the society, with all the attendant problems that Jung discussed and portrayed. I have seen in it my own life as I work to integrate my Self. Seeing how our personal lives and our society fit with this analysis, by way of Eros and Logos, will help us to see and realize the problems much more clearly and point more clearly to the solutions, that Jung spent decades writing and speaking of. But this analysis and way of seeing is a constant process of recognition, discovery and work, to integrate and to heal.
Carl Jung is our best guide for all of this great transition and transformation that we are now experiencing. The ideas of Jung will help us to understand and negotiate the great changes that we will all experience, within each one of us and in our societies. The forces of deep evolution are carrying us along in ways that I do not pretend to understand. I see the general path and its ultimate success and the culmination of that divine marriage as being absolutely inevitable, just as the rise of Logos was inevitable, although temporary. But I do not pretend to know the timeline – Jung spoke in a letter of a six hundred year period of great changes. He was not speaking of precisely what I am speaking of, but I think that fundamentally we are speaking of the same change in human consciousness.
I am not suggesting that the integration of Eros and Logos will be the only feature of this deep evolutionary jump and disruption. I suspect that there will be others and I have an idea of another great thinker who set out another deep evolutionary movement within humanity as well. I am convinced, however, that if we see this evolutionary disruptive period as being due to this reclaiming of Eros and those agents that support it – the collective unconscious, mythology, archetypes, symbols, art, dreams, etc – we will do much better in this turbulent period before us. I hope and believe that Jung and his thinking will become much more highly valued and adopted by more and more people.
I know of no other thinker who is a greater advocate and support for the deep evolutionary movement and processes, than Carl Gustav Jung. He brought together an enormous body of historical work and knowledge, as well as his own brave explorations, to produce the basis of a coherent understanding of the human pscyhe. It is absolutely remarkable how much he accomplished in his life, yet we are still early in our understanding and much work remains to be done. Jung stressed that each person must find their own path in life and in their psychological growth and development. The unique path of an individual, within the social context of a culture and a species, is the most robust and powerful source of evolution. Our individual differences help to seed new evolutionary possibilities in our fellow human beings, just as our left and right brains, and Eros and Logos, serve to ensure that the integrated whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Eros knows this to be true. Jung, who embraced the necessity of accepting the opposite poles in everything, knew this to be true. Logos will remain strong, but Eros rises, and reclaims her strength, which was never lost or in doubt.
The idea of the divided brain is briefly discussed here:
Remembering that the sun is associated with the masculine and Logos, and the moon with the feminine and Eros…
In all of the writing on my thesis, which is to come, I am engaged in speculation. I don’t believe it is wild speculation but it certainly is out there. I will say a few things in my defense.
Big ideas must be speculative to begin with, and I’m dealing with very big ideas – evolution, the meaning of life and the future of humanity. I really have no interest in considering small ideas. Professionally I am a specialist, but for this I am forced to be a generalist, but so is everyone engaged in examining big ideas.
You can’t examine these ideas without speculating for two reasons. Firstly, these questions involve a number of disciplines or areas of knowledge. At one time, the world’s body of knowledge was small enough that one person could speak with some authority to bring a number of disciplines together – that time has passed. Intuitive leaps and big ideas cannot come from a committee, so a person is forced to do the best she or he can as an individual, trying to bring together as much breadth and depth of knowledge as they can.
Secondly, the subjects I am looking at are, by their very nature, speculative. There is no way to make predictions for the future with a handle and perspective on the present, or consider the possible meaning of life, without speculating. So what are we to do? Should we simply throw up our hands and leave the subjects altogether? Or leave them in the hands of “experts”? When no such experts really exist? I obviously believe that speculation is justified, or even demanded by the times we live in. I am an optimist for humanity and for our culture. but we face enormous challenges. We need to speculate and explore these big ideas.
As an optimist, I see many wring their hands over the fragility of the planet earth and of humanity. I largely do not share those views. Human individuals and ecological niches in the planet can be very fragile, and pain and destruction is occurring everywhere, but it always has. But overall I see the planet earth and humanity as being very robust and able to adapt to harsh conditions. We have seen those harsh conditions in the past and we are likely to see them in the future. So paint me as an eternal optimist. In any case, pessimism does not serve us. We are at risk from natural disasters as well as human ones, and I believe the greatest human risk we face is psychological. And I am dedicated to facing those issues as a student of Carl Jung. Predictions of impending disaster are equally speculative, so we’re all in the same speculative boat. So let’s speculate intelligently and play with all these big ideas.
I also believe that human life has meaning and purpose which means that our survival makes sense. If we are an accident of material causes then our survival is likely contingent on forces way beyond our control. But if we are here for a purpose, with lives that have deeper meaning, it is reasonable to expect that we will survive as a species. That does not mean that survival is going to be easy, or enjoyable for all periods however.
I cannot prove that humanity has a greater purpose, just as those who believe we are simply clever meat robots, living in an impersonal materialist universe, cannot prove their assertion. One cannot prove an axiom. You start where you are, with the axiom you embrace, and go from there. I begin with the axiom that we do have a greater purpose as individuals and as a species. You follow the axiom and see where it takes you. If you find there are problems with where you are being taken, then you may decide to reformulate your axiom.
I am not, however, a complacent optimist, which is why I am engaging in all this speculation and writing about my thesis. I think each one of us, and humanity in general, are in for a wild ride. I am convinced that we are in turbulent times that are bound to become more disruptive. I see good and bad in all of this, but ultimate great good. But again, pain and destruction are very real and I think that Carl Jung has much to teach us to help us all in this process that fate or destiny has delivered to humanity. He was very aware of the challenging and dangerous times ahead. I share that concern, but as an optimist.
Speculation is really the only way to explore new, big ideas. To attempt to be rigorous and looking for ironclad proof at the outset is bound to get us bogged down and lead to frustration and failure. Intuitive leaps are speculation. Einstein began his theory of relativity by thought experiments of imagining what it would be like to ride a light beam – shear speculation, that led to great discoveries and proven theories. I am no Einstein, but I am speculating on bigger ideas than the theory of relativity. I make no apologies for engaging in speculation. Our times and our humanity demands such speculations – the more the better.
Further, I make no claims of divine knowledge or truth. I welcome exploring these ideas more and I am open to revising, modifying or tossing out whole sections or all of it, if evidence or truth demands it. But I remain a dedicated student of speculation. Intuitive leaps are the basis of creation. Let’s play with these big ideas.
Pivotal moments arrive in our life. We can never anticipate them. But we cannot ignore them. We must answer yes or no.
It just occurred to me, days after posting this, that this is a conversation between Logos and Eros, between a man largely in Logos and a woman largely in Eros. But I think that it supports my thesis – really the movie as a whole supports it. Logos can be trusted to eventually recognize its limitations and embrace Eros, but we have to do what we can to help in that process – hence the vital importance of all things Jungian. The ego, which has largely latched onto Logos as its method to understand and navigate the world, is very stubborn and short sighted because of the Logos approach to the world. Logos, as an archetype itself, is more flexible and open I believe. But it’s complicated and I will be exploring this a great deal in future posts.
From the wonderful movie, I Origins, and for me one of the most important scenes:
Or are we the “I” temporarily in the machine, but the pilot of the machine – the user of the machine – the view of Eros.
We must define ourselves by seeing the larger picture. To see our self as only the machine is to see the smallest part of the larger picture and then define the machine as us. Logos identifies each one of us as and with the machine.
Logos, by itself, is almost certain to see us as a machine, at least in this current age. Logos seeks to diminish Eros because the perspectives of the two are so different and Logos is threatened by the broader and deeper view of Eros.
Eros sees the “I” – the greater self. Both Logos and Eros are found in the machine, and outside of the machine – both use the machine. But Logos sees the smaller picture of parts and misidentifies as the machine, rather than the machine being our servant and our persona. Eros knows the truth. Logos is confused and limited in its perception. But in that confusion and limited perspective, Logos is convinced of the truth of its analysis. Our ego is also confused, because it is dominated by Logos as well. Both Logos and ego mean well, but are hopelessly limited by their narrow views – for now.
The machine is useful. It does work for us. But to be lost in the machine – to misidentify as the machine, is an error of perception. Eros cannot be lost and will correct that error.
The machine is not the master, but the servant.
Eros will re-establish the truth of our existence. It will show Logos the truth. The ego will come to know this truth .
Welcome to the Machine
Welcome my son, welcome to the machine
Where have you been?
It’s alright we know where you’ve been
You’ve been in the pipeline, filling in time
Provided with toys and ‘scouting for boys’
You brought a guitar to punish your ma
And you didn’t like school, and you
Know you’re nobody’s fool
So welcome to the machine
Welcome my son, welcome to the machine
What did you dream?
It’s alright we told you what to dream
You dreamed of a big star
He played a mean guitar
He always ate in the Steak Bar
He loved to drive in his Jaguar
So welcome to the machine
A random post of thoughtful rock n roll – not deep, but insightful. And the woman can rock. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t that long ago that comedy and rock n roll were not thought to be appropriate for women, or that they could do it as well as men. Ha. Evolution mocks such nonsensical conclusions. Evolution will never be denied.
Reality can only be understood by metaphor – explaining one thing by a relationship to another. But before metaphor, there is an axiom of existence – a starting point. Metaphors are always limited and misleading if they are taken too far or if they are allowed to inflate beyond their explanatory power. They are operational, contingent and provisional. Eros is the source of deeper and more profound truths. Eros rises.