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Jung: The Symbolic Life

Carl Jung was one of the original pioneers of modern psychiatry and one of history's greatest minds. He was an early collaborator of Freud and later founded Analytical Psychology. Jung's ideas have had wide cultural influence in areas such as religious studies, anthropology, art, philosophy, and theology. His divergence from Freud was due to their respective notion on "libido and the unconscious". For Jung, Freud's approach toward the "libido" was too sexual and too narrow. And for Jung, Freud's theory of the unconscious was incomplete, negative and too personalistic.

One of Jung's most popular terms is The Collective Unconscious. With this concept he proposes a broader and more comprehensive view of mind, including a spiritual dimension.

Jung was convinced that "libido" (psychic energy) has a spiritual purpose (teleo) beyond materialistic goals. He believed an individual's task (process of individuation) is to rediscover and fulfill one's deep innate potential (wholeness) and relate to one's inner-nature (union of opposites). This is considered a transformative task and it is at the heart of all religious traditions.

However, orthodox systems of religion have caused a widespread disenchantment. Their traditional religious concepts are no longer tenable for many people. Nevertheless, most people experience a strong sense of the sacred (numinous) in their lives yet lack useful language and interpretive methods for understanding and dealing with their respective religious/spiritual experiences.

Analytical psychology offers an alternative and viable method to express one's religious impulse and engage with the numinous in everyday life. For Jung, man is in need of The Symbolic Life.


Reading: The Symbolic Life

Questions to ponder:

*  Do you entertain the proposition of a collective unconscious?

*  What is a symbol to you?

*  Is the "symbolic life" a viable alternative for you?

*  Can an atheist and/or a materialist embrace an idea of symbolic life?

*  In what ways can a symbolic existence contribute to social order and social-consciousness?

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  • Eran

    Thank you Jorge for this invitation to reflect on Jung's ideas in a stirring and riveting way

    May 20, 2013

  • lawrence h.

    Has the definition of a symbol changed in the digital age? If so how?

    May 16, 2013

    • Jorge

      Hmmmmm.....seems provocative.

      May 19, 2013

  • Jorge

    "The development of consciousness is the burden, the suffering, and the blessing of mankind." - C.G. Jung

    1 · May 11, 2013

  • Jeryl

    Looks like Christy already RSVP'ed for me. :)

    April 6, 2013

    • Jeryl

      It's ok. I'll just have to leave my chances for a fully individuated RSVP for another reincarnation, or the next meet-up, whichever comes first. I don't really mind piggy backing of your mouse clicks since our combined collective consciousness is more than the sum of our individual ego parts anyway.

      1 · April 10, 2013

    • Christy

      Show off.

      April 10, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I hope this is in May or later...I have written a novel with Jungian themes, but I've absorbed them through osmosis. I've never read him. I know what Jungian means.

    April 7, 2013

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