We need another Jung, not because Carl Gustav was inadequate, but because he opened up such a vast field, that we need to develop it further. And the times demand it.
“We are living in what the Greeks called the right time for a “metamorphosis of the gods,” i.e. of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious man within us who is changing. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science.”
From The Undiscovered Self by C. G. Jung, Page 110
One of the major themes of my blog and my thinking is the primary importance of Carl Gustav Jung – his thinking and his scholarship.
For me, there is no doubt that he is one of the greatest thinkers of the last five hundred years, and one who has integrated a tremendous amount of thinking from the last few thousand years, as he developed his own ideas.
Many brilliant students of his, and of his ideas, have followed in his footsteps to expand and extend his ideas. Jung wrote so much, that mining that material, explaining it further, and extending it, is of enormous value.
But for anyone passionately in love with Jung and his ideas, you can’t help but be disappointed that his ideas are not more widely known and respected. Jung is critically important as a historical figure and he has fueled great advances in psychology, but psychology is still dominated by a materialist and “soulless” orthodoxy. Psychology wants to be respected as a science and that’s very important, but unfortunately contemporary science is animated (or not) by the materialist orthodoxy – physical matter came first and somehow the spark of consciousness arose, and there are some who even doubt that consciousness is real. For these scientists, we are essentially clever machines designed by self-replicating molecules acting randomly over time.
The New Age is another attempt (after the apparent failure of institutional religions) to move beyond this narrow perspective of existence and Jung is considered one of the fathers of the New Age. But the New Age is often simplistic and seen to be anti-science and more about “feeling good” in a flaky and self-indulgent way. Many serious intellectuals lump Jung in with that sensibility, so it’s hard for his ideas, that are much more serious and rigorous, to get traction in the broader culture.
I see the Jungian community as a vital and dynamic one that is performing critical work for both individuals and society in general. New people are coming to Jungian thought and scholarship, but I am not sure how many younger people are entering Jungian scholarship. I have no doubt that Jungian thought and scholarship will continue to be a strong force in the world. There is too much of value for that ever to be lost.
But. I think the time has come for Jungian thought to take center stage in the world – or at least become a major part of the discussion. The world has entered a period of unprecedented disruption. We are building the future of the human race, while older structures are being dismantled, or simply collapse. This has been happening for over one hundred years and Jung has been both a witness and a participant in these fractured times. This evolution and revolution in humanity is bigger than any one person – even an intellectual giant such as Jung. He was summoned by the times, and I believe the current times will summon a new Jung – the next Jung.
I do not know where this woman or man will come from. And to be clear, I have no illusions that I have any direct connection to this person who may arrive any day or year now, or she may be many years away. I am hopeful that this person will arrive soon, and I want to contribute to this renaissance in Jungian thinking in any way I can. I come to this as a relative outsider with no formal education in psychology or Jungian thought. I am simply a passionate student of Jung and his ideas. I am convinced that his ideas will be fundamental in building this future of the human race.
I see that the next phase in the development of these ideas of Jung will require greater integration with scientific thought. This will come about not from a change in Jungian ideas but in a sea change in the notion of consciousness held by science. The seed of this change has been planted by a scientist you have almost certainly never heard of, or one whose importance has not yet been recognized by many people. I have no doubt that he has developed and is continuing to develop the beginning of a revolution that will remake our understanding of human consciousness and allow for Jung’s ideas to be understood and taken much more seriously by many more people. That will lead to astounding developments in psychology as well as many other fields, since human consciousness and psychology, along with philosophy and art, are really the underpinnings and bedrock of our lives.
This is a bold claim, but one that has percolated within me for some time. Everyone will have to judge all this on their own with their personal experience and discernment to guide them. The scientist who developed this theory is a credentialed scholar who works rigorously in a university setting. He is no crank, but a thoughtful and cautious scholar. He is a psychologist and a cognitive scientist who has arrived at his conclusions, which are really just a jumping off point, by studying evolution. I don’t think it is irony or simple coincidence that evolution, which I consider to be the central meaning and purpose of life, will be the engine of this revolution that I see in our future. It is also no irony or coincidence that evolution is, for some people, the central source of animosity and hostility between advocates of science and those of religion. The resolution of this hostility and the greater integration of religion and science will be both a symptom and a cause of this revolution.
Jung himself was profoundly interested in both a religious and a scientific approach to psychology and to life.
“My interests drew me in different directions. On the one hand I was powerfully attracted by science, with its truths based on facts; on the other hand I was fascinated by everything to do with comparative religion. […] In science I missed the factor of meaning; and in religion, that of empiricism.”
From Memories Dreams and Reflections by C. G. Jung Page 72
I believe that this new hypothesis will give us a revolution in our understanding of our lives and of our consciousness, as Jung explored so deeply.
I believe that human consciousness is much more important and fundamental to our lives as Jung set out in all his writing . This new hypothesis will make this clear and will pave the way for a much broader and deeper respect for the ideas of Carl Jung. Many of us do not require Jung’s ideas to be defended by science per se. Our own experiences and our view of reality are enough – we see the great sense that Jung makes and has made for our own lives. But many more people require a greater level of proof that has been offered so far. This new hypothesis will pave the way for many more people to take Jung much more seriously. This hypothesis will help to make sense of some of Jung’s most important ideas such as archetypes, the collective unconscious, individuation and the transcendent function. I have no doubt that it will lead to a renaissance in Jungian scholarship and ultimately in every field, including every field in science.
I will be taking this hypothesis much farther than the original author would dare to, because he has to be cautious in maintaining a scientific approach freer of the speculation that others can indulge. I have no evidence that this scientist is a Jungian or ready to speculate on all the possibilities that could flow from his hypothesis, but he is certainly aware of how significant his discovery could be and does speak of that. Ultimately his theory will be the beginning of a revolution, but one that will flow in many directions. I am excited about the possibilities for the Jungian approach to human psychology. It will allow us to make much greater sense of human consciousness, its history and its future, and for any student of Jung’s, that is an elixir that will be as intoxicating as it is enlightening. There will be much work to be done.
Jung wrote in the preface for Erich Neumann’s The Origins And History Of Consciousness:
(This book) “begins just where I, too, if I were granted a second lease of life, would start to gather up the disjecta membra of my own writings, to sift out all those “beginnings without continuations” and knead them into a whole. As I read through the manuscript of this book it became clear to me how great are the disadvantages of pioneer work: one stumbles through unknown regions; one is led astray by analogies, forever losing the Ariadne thread; one is overwhelmed by new impressions and new possibilities, and the worst disadvantage of all is that the pioneer only knows afterwards what he should have known before. The second generation has the advantage of a clearer, if still incomplete, picture; certain landmarks that at least lie on the frontiers of the essential have grown familiar, and one now knows what must be known if one is to explore the newly discovered territory.”
Neumann, Erich. The Origins And History Of Consciousness: Volume 118 (International Library of Psychology) . Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
Jung himself recognized that there was much more work to be done in the fields he had planted. I think the time has come for the next Jung.
Consciousness is the fundamental “stuff” of the universe, and I have no doubt that science will have to acknowledge this fact sooner or later. This new hypothesis will lead to this revolution, as it becomes clear that it is proven by an evolutionary theory that almost everyone can agree upon as operating in the material world. Human consciousness and our experience of our consciousness, and everything that goes and comes along with it, is in for the exciting, yet challenging ride that Jung anticipated and studied more than any other human so far. I look forward to the next stage of this revolution – the seeds have been planted and now is the time for watering and fertilizing.