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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Carl Jung on the “Subjective."





Lecture 8

Questions and Discussion

Dr. Harding’s question: “In your talk last time about art you used the term ‘subjective.’

There have been discussions between several of us in the group as to the significance of that term, and there seem to be as many views as there are disputants.

In particular there seems to be a widespread idea that subjective is a term that can only be applied to the introvert, and on the other hand that an
introvert cannot possess a concrete personality.

Will you elucidate this for us?”

Dr. Jung: “Subjective” denotes in the first place just what you know it does, that is, the view of a given individual which is special to him and different from that of any other individual.

In this sense it is often used as a criticism of an attitude, that is, as meaning that a person is not taking a given thing objectively, or “as it really is,” as we say.

But, of course, it need not be a reproach to say that an opinion is subjective.

It might be that what is wanted is the particular individual’s personal opinion.

Then the term “subjective” also means an argument coming from the subject, but nonetheless an object.

In every person there are certain collective ideas—such, for example, as the Darwinian theory—which are quite objective.

They in no sense belong to the subject simply because they are to be found in his mind.

Again there are certain unconscious products which people like to think of as establishing forever the uniqueness of their individualities, but which in reality are shared by all and are, by reason of this collective quality, objects vis-à-visthe subject’s mind.

It must of course be remembered that there is no objective statement that is not subjective to a certain extent.

That is, it has undergone a certain degree of refraction by reason of its passage through the subject’s mind.

This was never so clear to me as when I was writing the Types.

I found it well-nigh impossible to reduce the refraction to the desired minimum.

The minute a thing goes into language it is ipso facto conditioned in its objectivity.

Take for example a German writing about feeling: It is a peculiarity of the German language that it does not distinguish between “sensation”
and “feeling” [Empfindung] as do English and French.

Therefore, a German writing about feeling is quite likely to say sensation instead of feeling and therefore to give his idea a slant absolutely peculiar to himself.

But again, take the German word Wirklichkeit, “reality.”


The Latin word from which “reality” is derived is res, literally “thing.”

But the German translates “thing-reality” as Dinglichkeit, and Wirklichkeit means to him a special kind of reality, namely the reality of working, of validity in life.

It would lead us into a terrible entanglement of subtleties if we traced out the further connotations included in these words, but you can see what a serious handicap language is when it comes to thoroughgoing objectivity.

Thus the images in our mind tend to form prejudices, of a greater or less rigidity to be sure, but nevertheless prejudices from which we can never be wholly free.

These preexisting mental images into contact with which the stream of our personal experience comes, I call the subjective factor.

Our mental processes cannot escape the intermingling with these preexisting images, so it is easy to see why a new idea always has to fight for its life against these ancestral predispositions.

You can tell a man a new idea and he says, “Yes, of course,” and you are pleased with his understanding, but the chances are he has taken the idea and twisted every spark of life out of it in order to make it fit better the morgue of which his own mind consists; you finish by wishing you had never attempted to launch the idea.

The subjective factor, then, in this second sense, is held to be made up of objective material, namely ancestral views.

The artist returns to these ancestral views.

He leaves the outer object and returns to the object as seen by his mind rather than as seen by his senses.

Does this answer your question, Dr. Harding?

Dr. Harding: Yes, but I would like it if you would make a closer connection between “subjective” and introversion and extraversion.

Dr. Jung: The extravert bases himself on the value of the outer object, the introvert on that of the inner object.

The extravert is controlled by his relation to the thing without, the introvert by his relation to the thing within.

Both of these attitudes grow out of attitudes to be found among primitive peoples, because to the primitive the inner and the outer tend to form one experience.

The primitive is quite sure that he has both inner and outer value because it does not occur to him to distinguish between the two.

The ancient gods were exteriorized emotions personified.

It is only through consciousness that the discrimination between inner and outer experience is achieved, and only by consciousness that a man can know he is connected with the outer object to the neglect of the inner and vice versa.

The conscious extravert values his connection with the outer object and fears his own inner self.

The introvert has no fear of himself, but great fear of the object, which he comes to endow with extraordinary terrors.

You remember the story of Alcibiades and Socrates.

Alcibiades was due to make a public speech and came and told Socrates that he had failed to do it through fear of the audience.

Socrates led him about Athens, and coming first to a blacksmith said, “Do you know this man?” “Yes.”

“Do you fear him?” “No.”

Then he took him to a shoemaker and asked the same questions, and again Alcibiades had no fear.

“These,” said Socrates, “are just the men before whom you were afraid to speak.”

But it is ordinarily that way for the introvert, the crowd heaping itself up into a monster before him.

Sometimes he is able to compensate and to develop a very forceful manner in order to subdue the monster.

The fear the introvert feels rests on the unconscious assumption that the object is too much animated, and this is a part of the ancient belief in magic.

The extravert, on the other hand, behaves as if the world were a lovely family.

He does not project terrors into the object, but is quite at home with it.

But to show you the way he feels about himself, I can tell you of a patient I had who was wearing himself out with extravagant extraversion.

I told him he must take an hour apart each day when he would be quite by himself.

He said it would be fine to have some music with his wife in the evening.

“No,” I said, “that is not it, you must be by yourself.”

“To read, you mean?”

“No, to do nothing but think.”

“Not for anything in the world,” he said.

“That leads to straight-out melancholia.”

Dr. de Angulo: If you were told that a person had an extraverted attitude toward the material of the collective unconscious, what would you take it to mean?

Dr. Jung: That is difficult to say. What do you think it means?

Dr. de Angulo: I don’t know what it means.

Dr. Jung: In the case of the introvert his attitude toward his collective images is that of the extravert toward the outside world.

He lives through them as in a romance or adventure.

The extravert, on the other hand, takes his unconscious material in an introverted.

This anecdote, as related, is not found in the literature.

This way, that is, with extreme caution and with many incantations to exorcise the inner power the object exercises over him.

The extravert, seeing a green spot, jumps in and gets up to his neck in a swamp, but pulls out, shakes himself, and goes merrily on his way.

If the introvert does that he is almost incapacitated for taking a walk ever again and blames everything in heaven and on the earth for his mistake.

But if the swamp is in himself, he can jump in and come out unharmed, while to the extravert the swamp within himself is to be avoided at all costs.

You recall the dream I told you last time in which Siegfried was killed. In this dream something was fulfilled that had been suggested in the cave.

The slain hero was there and here the murder is accomplished, so we can say of the dream that it is an elaboration of the vision in the cave.

Of course, after such an event as the murder of the hero, things can be expected to happen.

Siegfried stands for the ideal, and the killing of the ideal is the killing of the superior function, for it is the conquering function.

A man with brains uses his intellect as his foremost tool, and this is truly an ideal; nor would he be adapted were this ideal not in harmony with other people’s ideals of intellect.

When the intellect or any superior function is pushed that far, it becomes bloodless and takes on an airy, gas-like character.

Because it is a generally valid ideal, one thinks one has accomplished something very wonderful in differentiating a function to that extent, but in reality it is a very mechanical affair.

Take an intellectual man and confront him with a woman who is a highly differentiated feeling type and there is a mutual disappointment, each finding the other empty and dry.

Impersonal feeling and thinking are very relativistic.

When we look at them they seem something extraordinary, whereas in reality they are dead, because the personal unconscious is seeking to
return to a more complete life away from the extreme differentiation of one function.

So the primitive functions begin to increase.

We cannot get anywhere in analysis with thinking until it reaches its antinomy—that is, something is and is not true at one and the same time.

The same is true with feeling, and a differentiated feeling type must reach the point where the thing most loved is the thing most hated, before refuge will be sought in another function.

In the previous vision in the cave, the black scarab came after the fair-haired hero.

The latter can be taken as the sun of the day, that is, the superior function.

After he goes comes black night, which then gives birth to a new sun.

The thing that appears should be in our expectation a new hero, but in reality it is a midnight sun.

This idea of the sun of the day having its opposite in the night is an archetypal idea.

Pythagoras, for example, thought that the earth had a twin.

The idea also comes out in an anonymous book that was published during the war.

This book was called Peter Blobbs—Real Dreams, and the first dream, the one in which the midnight sun analogy appears, is called “The Night of the Swinging Censer.”

The dreamer is in an old cathedral which slowly fills with people.

It is sunset time or after. In the middle of the cathedral there hangs a censer which is swinging to and fro.

The more the night advances, the stronger grow the oscillations, and at the same time the church fills with hundreds of people clad in the costumes of all times and of all centuries.

even the primitives come in.

As the church fills, the censer swings more and more and glows more brightly.

At midnight the maximum is reached, and towards morning it decreases; with sunrise it comes to a standstill.

This is an extremely fine demonstration of the movement of the unconscious.

As day fades the unconscious is activated, and by midnight the censer is in full blaze, but lighting up the past.

As the dynamic principle increases in power, and the further back we go, the more are we overcome by the unconscious.

Lunatics go furthest back to a strange psychological state where they cannot understand their ideas, nor are they able to make them understood
by others.

Sometimes, if it is in any way possible for a supposedly insane man to get his ideas understood, he can get well from the very strangest aberrations.

Once a young Swiss man tried to jump into the carriage of the Empress of Germany with a bouquet of flowers.

As he did so, he shouted out, “Les couleurs Suisses pour l’Impératrice!”

His history was this:

He was quite mad for a time and, identifying himself with Rousseau, went to the Isle Rousseau and wrote a book of five thousand pages.

While he was there on the Isle Rousseau, a German couple came there to live.

The wife thought herself misunderstood and she and the young Swiss fell in love with each other.

Then she could not stand him and fled to Berlin, being shortly followed by him.

He had to look for her among the imperial family, for of course in no lesser place was she to be found, and when he gave the bouquet to the Empress, it was to his mother-in-law to be.

I went very deeply into his analysis and found all his ideas to be in a perfectly logical sequence.

He did not know why he should be considered insane, and he was certain that if the professors understood they would not lock him up.

He has succeeded in making me understand him and finally I got his release.

About two years ago I got a letter from him in America expressing his gratitude to me.

He had married and was bringing up a family with success, and had had no return of his trouble.

Because I had been able to follow him in his ideas, it was possible for him to work over from what to all intents and purposes seemed insanity, to reality.

Later on I saw the same thing happen in other cases.

The more the dynamic principle gets into full swing, the greater is the power gained by the unconscious until the condition of dementia praecox may ensue.

The dream of the censer showed very beautifully the slow advance of power as the night advanced.

The flaming censer is analogous to the midnight sun, which becomes incandescent when the day sun, or superior function, goes out.

Why doesn’t the inferior function come up at once?

The inferior function is hooked up with the collective unconscious and has to come up first in the collective fantasies, which of course, in their first aspect, do not seem to be collective.

One thinks of them as quite unique, and the people who have them are shy and withdrawn, and often suspicious, like people who hide a great secret.

From this state to that of God-almightiness is but a step.

The person becomes more and more identical with the collective unconscious.

The next thing that happened to me was another fantastic vision.

I used the same technique of the descent, but this time I went much deeper.

The first time I should say I reached a depth of about one thousand feet, but this time it was a cosmic depth.

It was like going to the moon, or like the feeling of a descent into empty space.

First the picture was of a crater, or a ring-chain of mountains, and my feeling association was that of one dead, as if oneself were a victim.

It was the mood of the land of the hereafter.

I could see two people, an old man with a white beard and a young girl who was very beautiful.

I assumed them to be real and listened to what they were saying.

The old man said he was Elijah and I was quite shocked, but she was even more upsetting because she was Salome.

I said to myself that there was a queer mixture: Salome and Elijah, but Elijah assured me that he and Salome had been together since eternity.

This also upset me.

With them was a black snake who had an affinity for me.

I stuck to Elijah as being the most reasonable of the lot, for he seemed to have a mind.

I was exceedingly doubtful about Salome.

We had a long conversation then but I did not understand it.

Of course I thought of the fact of my father being a clergyman as being the explanation of my having figures like this.

How about this old man then?

Salome was not to be touched upon.

It was only much later that I found her association with Elijah quite natural.

Whenever you take journeys like this you find a young girl with an old man, and many examples of these two figures are to be found in books familiar to you, such as those of Melville and Rider Haggard.

In the Gnostic tradition it is said that Simon Magus always went about with a young girl whom he had found in a brothel.

She was named Helen and was supposed to be a reincarnation of Helen of Troy.

Then there are Kundry and Klingsor.

There is a book by a monk of the fifteenth century, F. Colonna, 1450, called Hypnerotomachia (Dream-love-conflict), in which the same story ecurs.

Besides those examples I have given of Haggard and Melville, there are the books of Meyrink. ~Carl Jung, 1925 Seminar on Analytical Psychology, Pages 64-70

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