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Friday, September 18, 2015

Carl Jung: There is no psychology worthy of this name in East Asia

To Karl Kotschau

Dear Colleague, 16 May 1958

There is no psychology worthy of this name in East Asia, but instead a philosophy consisting entirely of what we would call psychology.

Hence there is no psychoanalysis either, for what Freudian analysis endeavours to unearth is already included in the totalistic thinking of the East.

Your conjecture that the totalistic order has largely been abandoned in the West is in best agreement with the facts.

Accordingly everything must needs be for the best in the East.

But this is by no means so, because the totalistic attitude, which is of the greatest importance for us, imposes upon the East the immense burden of totality.

This can be seen even in the smallest details.

For instance I once had a talk with Hu Shih, then the ambassador of the Kuomintang in Washington, and the foremost modem Chinese philosopher.

I noticed that he was completely exhausted after two hours although I had confined myself to a few simple questions concerning specific points.

But I saw that this form of questioning was extraordinarily difficult for him; it was as though I had asked him to bring me a blade of grass and each time he had dragged along a whole meadow for me, which of course made his exhaustion perfectly comprehensible.

Each time I had to extract the detail for him from an irreducible totality.

For us this totalistic view of things naturally has something very wonderful about it.

But for the Oriental it results in a curious detachment from the world of concrete particulars we call reality.

He is so weighed down by the totality that he can scarcely get hold of the details.

Therefore-and this explains the tremendous upheaval going on in the East-he has a profound need for mastery over the concrete, with the result that America's gadget-mania works on him like a devastating bacillus.

Our childish passion for ever faster cars and aeroplanes is for him a dream of bliss.

No wonder the old Chinese wisdom is dying out even more rapidly than the philosophical apathy of yoga in India.

It has happened to me more than once that educated East Asians rediscovered the meaning of their philosophy or religion only through reading my books.

Perhaps the profoundest insights into the peculiarities of the East Asian mind come from Zen, which tries to solve the Eastern problem on the level of our Scholasticism.

The dialogue with the East is therefore extraordinarily important for us as well as for them.

In this respect Lily Abegg's book is one of the most instructive I know.

With collegial regards,

Yours very sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 438-439