Page Level Ad

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Carl Jung: How far a man can become conscious nobody knows.




Anonymous

Dear Herr N., 9 May 1959

While thanking you for your interesting offprints I would also like to try to answer your questions to the best of my ability in writing.

A transference in the clinical sense does not always need a personal relationship as a bridge, but can take place via a book, a piece of hearsay, or a legend.

In your case it is obvious that unconscious contents have forced themselves on you which have put you in the situation, so well known in the East, for instance in India, of the pupil who receives the necessary guidance from a guru (teacher).

Since I was the nearest to hand, I have been assimilated to the East by this archetype.

It seems that one essential point at least-the concept of the archetype has transferred itself to you.

It may be a prejudice to think that the world of human ideas is conditioned by archetypes, but it is also a means of grasping something of the psychology of another organism.

In this way a man can learn a good deal about the differences between this organism and himself, although in theory he will never succeed in forming a picture of the Weltanschauung of a salamander.

"Teachings" are tools not truths; points of view that are laid aside once they have served their purpose.

All systemizations are to be avoided.

We would be going round every teaching in an endless circle if we did not constantly find new ways of escaping from it.

Thus the environment delivers us from the power of the archetypes,and the archetypes deliver us from the crushing influence of the environment.

Just like the animal, man too is caught up in the conflict between archetypal drives and environmental conditions.

The solution is always a compromise.

I am chary of all anticipatory generalizations.

For me the archetype means: an image of a probable sequence of events, an habitual current of psychic energy.

To this extent it can be equated with the biological pattern of behaviour.

If exact observation of the fright pattern, for instance-shows that the Human and the animal pattern are identical, we have, in accordance with the principle principia explicandi non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, no grounds for assuming (errors always excepte!) that another principle must be at work simply because we are dealing with an animal and not with a human being.

It would be a prejudice to assume that the behaviour of a fish, for instance, necessarily cannot be compared with that of another organism.

Cogent reasons would have to be offered for this.

If you isolate any way of looking at things, even one that has proved in practice to be the best, and then extend it to infinity you will end up with nonsense.

This is a piece of morbid intellectualism which at most a philosopher can afford, but not an empiricist, who knows full well that all his views are provisional and cannot be valid for all eternity.

It is therefore pointless to speculate about what would happen if all projections were withdrawn.

Withdrawal of projections is obviously a truth whose validity is only of limited application.

It is pretty certain that they can be withdrawn only to the extent that one is conscious.

How far a man can become conscious nobody knows.

We have as a matter of fact been able to correct a number of projections.

Whether this amounts to much or little, and whether it is a real advance or only an apparent one, is known only to the angels.

As to what absolute consciousness might be, this is something we cannot imagine even in our wildest dreams.

My remarks about the translation of the figurative language of alchemy into modern scientific terminology, and about this being yet another figurative language, were made partly ad hoc and partly as an expression of my doubt whether we have really conquered the final peak with our present achievements, which is highly unlikely.

As a rule it so happens that what passes for the profoundest Knowledge and the ultimate truth on the first level is understood and derided as ridiculous ignorance on the next, and it is thought that now at last we have arrived at the right insights.

When we reach the third level the same thing happens as before.

We cannot see how we could ever attain to a universally valid view of the world in this way.

You can, if you like, call these views an intellectual game with nature, but nature has the uncomfortable quality of occasionally playing a game with us, though we would scarcely have the nerve to call it a "game" any more.

Notwithstanding these doubts it would, however, be quite wrong to relapse into an impatient nihilism and, intellectually anticipating the worst, to write off all man's scientific achievements as nugatory.

With science you really do get somewhere, even if you don't attain the ultimate philosophical insights.

We don't attain any "ultimate truths" at all, but on the way to them we discover a whole lot of astonishing partial truths.

You can call this progress, which indeed it is within the limited area of the drive for human knowledge.

If we knew the meaning of the whole, we would know how much or how little progress we have made.

But as we do not possess this knowledge we must be content with the feeling of satisfaction which is our reward for every increase in knowledge, even the smallest.

With best greetings,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 504-506