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Monday, January 4, 2016

Carl Jung's Foreword to Erich Neumann's "The Origin and History of Consciousness"




The author has requested me to preface his book with a few words of introduction, and to this I accede all the more readily because I found his work more than usually welcome.

It begins just where I, too, if I were granted a second lease of life, would start to gather up the disfecta membra of my own writings, to sift out all those “beginnings without continuations” and knead them into a whole.

As I read through the manuscript of this book it became clear to me how great are the disadvantages of pioneer work: one stumbles through unknown regions; one is lead astray by analogies, forever losing the Ariadne thread; one is overwhelmed by new impressions and new possibilities, and the word disadvantage of all is that the pioneer only knows afterwards what he should have known before.

The second generation has the advantage of a clearer, if still incomplete, picture; certain landmarks that at least lie on the frontiers of the essential have grown familiar, and one now knows what must be known if one is to explore the newly discovered territory.

Thus forewarned and forearmed, a representative of the second generation can spot the most distant connections; he can unravel problems and give a coherent account of the whole field of study, whose full extent the pioneer can only survey at the end of his life’s work.

This difficult an d meritorious task the author has performed with outstanding success.

He has woven his facts into a pattern and created a unified whole, which no pioneer could have done nor could ever have attempted to do.

As though in confirmation of this, the present work opens at the very place where I unwittingly made landfall on the new continent long ago, namely the realm of matriarchal symbolism; and, as a conceptual framework work for his discoveries, the author uses a symbol whose significance first dawned on me in my recent writings on the psychology of alchemy: the uroboros.

Upon this foundation he has succeeded in constructing a unique history of the evolution of consciousness, and at the same time in representing the body of myths as the phenomenology of this same evolution.

In this way he arrives at conclusions and insights which are among the most important ever to be reached in this field.

Naturally to me ,as a psychologist, the most valuable aspect of the work is the fundamental contribution it makes to a psychology of the unconscious.

The author has placed the concepts of analytical psychology-which for many people are so bewildering-on a firm evolutionary basis, and erected upon the temperament and subjective assumptions of the author as well as upon objective data.

This factor is of the greatest importance in psychology, tor the “personal equation” colors the mode of seeing.

Ultimate truth, if there be such a thing, demands the concert of many voices.

I can only congratulate the author on his achievement.

May this brief foreword convey to him my heartfelt thanks. ~C.G. Jung, March 1, 1949

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