Carl G. Jung: The Trouble With Self-Knowledge

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jung“Most people confuse “self-knowledge” with knowledge of their conscious ego personalities. Anyone who has any egoconsciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself. But the ego knows only its own contents, not the unconscious and its contents. People measure their self-knowledge by what the average person in their social environment knows of himself, but not by the real psychic facts which are for the most part hidden from them. In this respect the psyche behaves like the body with its physiological and anatomical structure, of which the average person knows very little too. Although he lives in it and with it, most of it is totally unknown to the layman, and special scientific knowledge is needed to acquaint consciousness with what is known of the body…

In this broad belt of unconsciousness, which is immune to conscious criticism and control, we stand defenseless, open to all kinds of influences and psychic infections. As with all dangers, we can guard against the risk of psychic infection only when we know what is attacking us, and how, where and when the attack will come. Since self-knowledge is a matter of getting to know the individual facts, theories help very little in this respect. For the more a theory lays claim to universal validity, the less capable it is of doing justice to the individual facts. Any theory based on experience is necessarily statistical; that is to say, it formulates an ideal average which abolishes all exceptions at either end of the scale and replaces them by an abstract mean.

The statistical method shows the facts in the light of the ideal average but does not give us a picture of their empirical reality. While reflecting an indisputable aspect of reality, it can falsify the actual truth in a most misleading way. This is particularly true of theories which are based on statistics. The distinctive thing about real facts, however, is their individuality. Not to put too fine a point on it, one could say that the real picture consists of nothing but exceptions to the rule, and that, in consequence, absolute reality has predominantly the character of irregularity.

These considerations must be borne in mind whenever there is talk of a theory serving as a guide to self-knowledge. There is and can be no self-knowledge based on theoretical assumptions, for the object of self-knowledge is an individual – a relative exception and an irregular phenomenon. Hence it is not the universal and the regular that characterize the individual, but rather the unique. He is not to be understood as a recurrent unit but as something unique and singular which in the last analysis can neither be known nor compared with anything else.

carl-jung2If I want to understand an individual human being, I must lay aside all scientific knowledge of the average man and discard all theories in order to adopt a completely new and unprejudiced attitude. I can only approach the task of understanding with a free and open mind, whereas knowledge of man, or insight into human character, presupposes all sorts of knowledge about mankind in general.

Now whether it is a question of understanding a fellow human being or of self-knowledge, I must in both cases leave all theoretical assumptions behind me. Since scientific knowledge not only enjoys universal esteem but, in the eyes of modern man, counts as the only intellectual and spiritual authority, understanding the individual obliges me to commit lèse majesté, so to speak, to turn a blind eye to scientific knowledge. This is a sacrifice not lightly made, for the scientific attitude cannot rid itself so easily of its sense of responsibility. And if the psychologist happens to be a doctor who wants not only to classify his patient scientifically but also to understand him as a human being, he is threatened with a conflict of duties between the two diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive attitudes of knowledge, on the one hand, and understanding, on the other. This conflict cannot be solved by an either-or but only by a kind of two-way thinking: doing one thing while not losing sight of the other.”

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)

The Undiscovered Self

[download e-book in PDF]

Mead

Quite an unique quote, by Margaret Mead (1901-1988)

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I’m currently working on an original article about Jung’s seminar, from 1934 to 1939, about Nietzsche’s ZarathustraStay tuned… i’ll publish it here soon. He’s a taste of what’s to come: 

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“Nietzsche was in a sort of fighting position against the whole contemporary world and it gave him a peculiar feeling of inefficiency that his words reached nowhere – no echo anywhere. That really was the case; nobody cared, his was the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, and so naturally he would increase his voice instead of lowering it. (…) He needed strong language in order to overthrow that small fellow who was so overwhelmed by tradition.” (JUNG, Seminar on Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, 9 May 1934)

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“God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse” (Slavoj Zizek & Boris Gunjevic)

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God in Pain: Inversions of the Apocalypse

Slavoj Žižek and Boris Gunjević

A brilliant dissection and reconstruction of the three major faith-based systems of belief in the world today, from one of the world’s most articulate intellectuals, Slavoj Zizek, in conversation with Croatian philosopher Boris Gunjevic. In six chapters that describe Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in fresh ways using the tools of Hegelian and Lacanian analysis, God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse shows how each faith understands humanity and divinity – and how the differences between the faiths may be far stranger than they may at first seem.

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SEVEN STORIES PRESS:

In God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse, pyrotechnic Marxist theorist Slavoj Žižek and radical theologian Boris Gunjević offer us not a religious text but a critical inquiry, a work of faith not in God but in the human intellect. With his contagious zeal and his genius for unlikely connections, Žižek calls the bluff on the West’s alleged atheism and contemplates the bewildering idea of an Almighty that both suffers and prays. Taking on Žižek’s gambits and proposing his own, Gunjević issues a revolutionary clarion call for theology that can break the back of capitalism’s cunning “enslavement of desire.” With gripping examples and razor-sharp logic, Žižek and Gunjević invoke thinkers from Augustine to Lacan and topics ranging from Christian versus “pagan” ethics to the “class struggle” implied in reading the Qur’an and the role of gender in Islam. Together, they confirm and dissect faith in the twenty-first century, shaking the foundations of the Abrahamic traditions.

REVIEWS

“The most dangerous philosopher in the West.” —Adam Kirsch, New Review

“Zizek has only to clap eyes on a received truth to feel the intolerable itch to deface it … Zizek is that rare breed of writer—one who is both lucid and esoteric. If he is sometimes hard to understand, it is because of the intricacy of his ideas, not because of a self-preening style.” —Terry Eagleton

About Slavoj Žižek and Boris Gunjević

Philosopher and cultural critic SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK is internationally recognized for his work on psychoanalysis. He teaches at the European Graduate School and has been a visiting professor at Université de Paris VIII, Columbia, and Princeton, among other institutions. He is founder and president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and is the author of many books on topics ranging from Christianity to the films of David Lynch.

BORIS GUNJEVIĆ is a theologian, priest, and professor of history of philosophy and liturgy. He has taught in several schools and theological colleges on systematic theology, radical theology, and the history of philosophy, among other subjects. His forthcoming books include A Handbook for Militant Research and The Carpentry of John Milbank. He lives in Zagreb.

Chapters include:

By Zizek:

(1) “Christianity Against Sacred,”
(2) “Glance into the Archives of Islam,”
(3) “Only Suffering God Can Save Us,”
(4) “Animal Gaze,”
(5) “For the Theologico-Political Suspension of the Ethical,”

By Gunjevic:

(1) “Mistagogy of Revolution,”
(2) “Virtues of Empire,”
(3) “Every Book Is Like Fortress,”
(4) “Radical Orthodoxy,”
(5) “Prayer and Wake.”

Flight from Death – The Quest for Immortality [Full Documentary]

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“Patrick Shen’s award-winning “Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality” is a provocative study of “death denial” in cultures around the world. It draws upon the expertise of scholars, theologians and philosophers to examine how human behavior is influenced by the universal fear of death, especially in a post-9/11 climate of terrorism. It’s a stimulating, ultimately life-affirming film, filled with big ideas and revelatory footage.” -Seattle Times

Gabriel Byrne“Narrated by Golden Globe Winner Gabriel Byrne (Usual Suspects, HBO’s In Treatment, Miller’s Crossing), this 7-time Best Documentary award-winning film is the most comprehensive and mind-blowing investigation of humankind’s relationship with death ever captured on film. Hailed by many viewers as a “life-transformational film,” Flight from Death uncovers death anxiety as a possible root cause of many of our behaviors on a psychological, spiritual, and cultural level.

the-denial-of-death-e9b699lFollowing the work of the late cultural anthropologist, Ernest Becker, and his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Denial of Death, this documentary explores the ongoing research of a group of social psychologists that may forever change the way we look at ourselves and the world. Over the last twenty-five years, this team of researchers has conducted over 300 laboratory studies, which substantiate Becker’s claim that death anxiety is a primary motivator of human behavior, specifically aggression and violence.

Flight from Death features an all-star cast of scholars, authors, philosophers, and researchers including Sam Keen, Robert Jay Lifton, Irvin Yalom, and Sheldon Solomon culminating in a film that is “not only thought-provoking but also entertaining and put together with a lot of class” (Eric Campos, Film Threat). Three years in the making and beautifully photographed in eight different countries, Flight from Death is “a stimulating, ultimately life-affirming film, filled with big ideas and revelatory footage” (Jeff Shannon, Seattle Times).”

WATCH “THE FLIGHT FROM DEATH” (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!):

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P.S. A LINK TO ALL HOT DOCS PREVIOUSLY POSTED ON AWESTRUCK WANDERER CAN BE FOUND ON TOP OF THE BLOG, ABOVE THE COLLAGE OF HUMAN FACES. CHECK IT OUT!