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Demonstrating the Collective Unconscious

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,sci.skeptic,alt.psychology.jung
From: Seyfert-1 
Subject: Demonstrating the Collective Unconscious
Date: Fri, 02 Aug 2002 04:31:15 GMT

50020801 VII om (Andralphus):
#>Pasted from
#>The following is from the "Definition" portion of Jung's lecture in
#>1936 on "The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious", Collected
#>Works, Vol. 9.i, pars. 87-110.
#>"The collective unconscious is a part of the psyche which can be
#>negatively distinguished from a personal unconscious by the fact that
#>is does not, like the latter, owe its existence to personal experience
#>and consequently is not a personal acquisition. While the personal
#>unconscious is made up essentially of contents which have at one time
#>been conscious, but which have disappeared from consciousness through
#>having been forgotten or repressed, the contents of the collective
#>unconscious have never been in consciousness, and therefore have never
#>been individually acquired but owe their existence exclusively to

>...are the symbols themselves hard-wired?

indeed. wonderfully asked.

>The collective unconscious-theory says yes.  In fact, according 
>to it, quite a large number of symbols are hard-wired, really 
>complex mythico-religious symbols.

without much explanation for exceptions.

>How would we prove a collective unconscious?  I can think of a couple
>of ways, maybe others can think of more.

proof is for ninnies. let's talk a demonstration.

'bout the same way to demonstrate the existence of a god: 
something that seems to originate from or represent an aspect 
of the collective unconscious that may be ruled out as having
derived from conscious humans in some way (e.g. coded or 
ciphered communications in the ravings of a channeller, for a
k00l sci-fi thriller plot).
>a. One way would be to come up with an example of a symbol or concept
>that could not possibly be the invention of an individual psyche.   I
>have no idea what this would look like, but it would be interesting to
>try and come up with one.

demonstrating that something might derive from something more than an
individual psyche only takes as long as pointing to institutions and
organizations whose founders had no idea of their prescience. finding
some way to restrict your set to that which can *only* have come from
something more than an individual psyche seems impossible based, 
almost completely, upon the way you've worded it.

>b. Another might be to come up with a symbol that repeats itself
>frequently in unrelated cultures without any significant variation 
>or counterexample.

how can modern pop-mythologists maintain the truth of Jung while
acknowledging the wealth of contrary evidence to his theories?

this 'b.' is precisely what is claimed by poseur mythologers aching
for an undergirding to their paltry New Age conceptual fabrications.
(e.g. the cult of Margaret Murray and her God of the Witches).
>The association of the sun and the phallus is often brought up as an
>example of the second type.  

mostly by cultists dedicated to it, the wiser see more broadly.

>But there are phallic moon-gods, like the Middle Eastern deity Men, 
>so that can't be right.

Amaterasu too.

>...think of a possible candidate for categories a or b, 

I'm game. a) 
impossible to demonstrate. unworkable. rejected.
proving an impossibility is impossible.

this is insufficient, as consistency only dictates the proximity
to origination and not its conscious or unconscious origin.

>or think up a new c or d category....

'owe their existence exclusively to heredity' implies that
one might be able to isolate some kind of biochemical configuration
which corresponds with 'possessing the collective unconscious',
which might be looked at as a panacea or a disease. 

demonstrate its relation to heredity through genetic research 
please, then we can begin the blood tests to determine our 
aryanship. I am a Nordski and my testicles are larger than you.

it becomes difficult for me to take seriously the tests for 
that which is plainly false (numerous exceptions) but believed 
as gospel by so many neuvoreligious.

oh well, I'll try anyway.

invite the collective unconscious over for tea and crumpets.
set a particular time, place, make the delicious most choice
yummies your mammy made and set out a cushion for That August 
Other. tell us how it goes.

combine the most conservative with the most radical god-types,
and see if there are any examples of this kind of wierdness.
e.g. cross the God of Judgement For Not Washing Out Your Bowl 
with the twinkie-dancer who just accidentally spilled the last 
vial of DNA on the planet, and see whether there some culture 
somewhere that hasn't thought of it. the REAL question is not 
whether anyone can create something that no one could create, 
but whether anyone could create something original and unique.

might we see this as evidence of a collective unconscious? the
'collective' part gets left behind in the example I made --
perhaps you'd have to get emergence of identical *and* unique
art forms manifesting at the same exact time (so as to rule
out mutual influence).


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