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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Carl Jung’s Letter to Calvin S. Hall




To Calvin S. Hall

Dear Sir, 6 October 1954

Thank you for kindly giving me an opportunity to glimpse into the psychology of an American psychologist.

Above all I am much encouraged by the fact that you were able to get something positive out of my incompetent work and I am deeply obliged to you

1) for your willingness to hear my impressions,
2 ) for the honesty and sincerity of your purpose, and
3 ) for your serious attempt to be impartial and to lay aside your prejudices.

You have left me however with a puzzle from which I can hardly extricate myself.

In the first place I cannot understand the peculiar way in which you present my work.

In order to make myself clear, I should like to use the following example:

Somebody sets out to present Mr. Evans' work in Crete to an ignorant audience.

In order to do so he talks almost exclusively of Evans' conjectures with reference to Minoan history and culture.

But why doesn't he mention what he has dug up in Knossos?

His conjectures are irrelevant in comparison with the facts and results of his excavations, and moreover his audience not knowing about his main merit is in no way prepared to understand what his conjectures are all about.

Thus you chiefly deal with words and names instead of giving substance.

I am thoroughly empirical and therefore I have no system at all.

I try to describe facts of which you merely mention the names.

I got the funny impression that, while you claim to present myself, you restrict yourself to my suit of clothes, which is altogether indifferent to me and is certainly not essential.

I have never claimed f.i. to know much about the nature of archetypes, how they originated or whether they originated at all, whether they are inherited or planted by the grace of God in every individual anew.

You even adduce the old-fashioned sophism of the non-inheritance of acquired peculiarities.

What about a mutation that maintains itself in the subsequent generations?

What about the funny things you can see on the Gahipagos?

If no change gets inherited, then nothing gets changed unless there is an infinite series of creative acts.

But I don't insist, as you can easily see, upon such sophistications.

Your harping on such utterly irrelevant conjectures probably hangs together with another puzzle which I should like to explain again by an example: Somebody tries to present Mr. Plato's philosophical work.

We in Europe should expect that anybody trying to carry out such a plan would read all of Plato's writings and not only barely half and chiefly the earlier part of them.

Such a procedure would not qualify and could hardly be called responsible or reliable.

One could not even advocate it with an author as insignificant as myself.

The last and greatest puzzle is the funny prejudice which reminds me vividly of that vulgar idea that an alienist must be necessarily crazy because he deals with lunatics.

If you call me an occultist because I am seriously investigating religious, mythological, folkloristic and philosophical fantasies in modern individuals and ancient texts, then you are bound to diagnose Freud as a sexual pervert since he is doing likewise with sexual fantasies, and a psychologically inclined criminologist must needs be a gaol-bird.

A typical example of my later work is Psychology and Alchemy.

It is not my responsibility that alchemy is occult and mystical, and I am just as little guilty of the mystical delusions of the insane or the peculiar creeds of mankind.

Perhaps you have noticed that I follow the well-known method of comparative anatomy or of comparative history of religions or that of deciphering difficult ancient texts, as you can easily see in Psych. And Alch.

Dealing with such fantasies I have to adduce analogous material, which is to be found in mystical texts or in myths and religions.

Or do you assume that psychopaths have no fantasies of this kind?

Please cf. my book: Symbols of Transformation.

I cannot understand at all how dealing with sex fantasies should be more objective or more scientific than dealing with any other kind of fantasy, f.i. the religious one.

But obviously the sex fantasy must be true and real, while the religious fantasy is not true, it is an error and should not be, and whoever deals with it is highly unscientific.

Such logic transcends my horizon.

Being a physician and citizen I am not only justified but morally bound to warn or advise publicly when I see fit.

I am not inclined to preach, but I feel socially responsible and I have made up my mind not to participate in the arch-sin of the intellectual, namely the Trahison des clercs as a French author calls this particular form of infantile autoeroticism.

This is the reason why I am interested in the social aspects of psychology.

It is most surprising to me that almost none of the critiques of my work ever mentions the facts I am producing.

As a rule they ignore them completely.

But I should like to know how they would explain the astounding parallelism of individual and historical symbolism not reducible to tradition.

This is the real problem.

To deny the facts is too simple and too cheap.

It never pays to underrate new ideas or facts.

I hope you don't mind my giving you my impressions without polite detours.

You can dismiss them as irrelevant, but it won't be to the advantage of the progress of science.

I shall always remember the time when Freud disturbed the peaceful slumber of the medical and philosophical faculties by his shocking discoveries, which are now taken into serious consideration.

A professor once repudiated my statements saying: "But your argument collides with the doctrine of the unity of Consciousness.

Therefore you are wrong." This is an answer worthy of the XII Ith century, but unfortunately it happened in the XXth century.

Your typescript with my notes follows.

Hoping that my criticism does not offend you,

I remain,

Yours respectfully,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 184-187.