Greetings of Peace. This blog contains selections from my correspondence and other sources on a variety of subjects related to religion, philosophy, and spirituality. I hope that they may be of benefit to the interested reader. Concerning the title of the blog, read this entry.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Jung's Psychological Reductionism

Based upon what I know of each, I would say emphatically yes, there is a direct and irreconcilable conflict between the fundamental principles and premises of Jung's system and traditional metaphysics. The heart of the issue as I see it is that what is generally called the Traditionalist Perspective or School consists essentially of a restatement of the eternal and unchanging principles of Metaphysics whereas Jungian Psychology constitutes a series of psuedo-scientific discoveries and a method of analysis. Whereas traditional metaphysics subsists at the heart of each authentic religion, Jungian Psychology, in the practice of its adherents, tends to usurp the function of religion. The situation becomes complicated in that Jung recommended his patients who were so inclined to seek the nourishing support and return to the religions of their youth. However, his preferences were not for orthodox religions as such but in particular for the various heretical sects of Gnosticism. It is also important to note that every orthodox religion contains within itself an implicit psychology (or perhaps pneumatology) and an entirely sufficient psychotherapy rendering anything based upon a secular model or method not only unsuitable but also unnecessary.

An Archetypal Image From Jung's Red Book

Jung's work was very uneven and remained uncoordinated and contradictory in places. He repeatedly called attention to the fact that he was a pioneer in uncharted territory and that his function was primarily that of accumulating the data that would allow his followers to produce their various eloquent and systematic treatises without the need of beginning anew. If as Plato has so truthfully stated in the Phaedrus "even the worst of authors will say something that is to the point", in the work of a great mind like that of Carl Jung, there will be found much that is useful, interesting, and insightful. The problem is not with his work in toto, but rather with its fundamental principles. It is, however, precisely because of this fact and the pervasiveness of fundamentals in contributing to an overall perspective that one has to be very cautious.

There is an excellent article by Harry Oldmeadow dealing with the comparison of Eliade and Jung that summarizes the conflict very well. He states that the four primary points of the Traditionalist criticism are the Jungian perspectives of pan-psychism, the denial of metaphysics, the tyranny of the ego, and the repudiation of traditional religion.

The first and most decisive criticism deals with what Frithjof Schuon has called 'The Psychological Imposture' or "...the tendency to reduce everything to psychological factors and to call into question not only what is intellectual or spiritual...but also the human spirit as such, and therewith its capacity of adequation and, still more evidently, its inward illimitation and transcendence." This is to say, according to Oldmeadow, that the psychic reality contains and exhausts all of supra-material reality and that even in the event that spiritual as distinct from psychic reality exists, the psychic reality is the only one that we can access and experience directly, everything else being subsumed within the realm of the unconscious. This amounts by extension to a categorical denial of the reality of intellectual intuition, the intellect, and even metaphysics itself, all of these being interrelated.

On the whole I found Oldmeadow's assessment of these two authors, who were among my greatest formative influences, to be both balanced and insightful and I will leave it to you to examine his criticisms in greater depth in the (I believe) third part of his essay.

No comments:

Post a Comment