The idea of spirit (and its class of peers)

Life may seem chaotic on the surface, but there is a hidden meaning in it. This idea is not something we can find empirically — by intersubjectively verifiable observation of stable, repeatable phenomena —, nor can we deduct it inferentially from axiomatic principles or the totality of facts. It’s an idea that we arrive at psychologically: by experiencing it in a metaphorical way. The idea of a...

Connecting a few dots

We are now in a position to make some connections. At the end of a much earlier post, I have posed the question whether there is a reason behind the fact that the archetype of a hidden meaning (the archetype of spirit) appears sometimes personified (as Wise Old Man etc.) and sometimes as synchronicity (whether that means as Jung’s supposed “principle” or simply as de facto appearances of...

The self-deceptive ego

My current excursion into ego theory started from an instance of perspective reversal in which Hillman suggested that “the shadow casts me”, that is, we might understand the ego as a projection from the shadow (in its original Jungian understanding).  But we would be mistaken if we construed this narrowly, as the view that the ego is a projection only from the shadow. In Hillman’s thinking (as in...

Too much centeredness

In my reflections on the language of “having” dreams (fantasies, creative spirit, etc.) I briefly gestured to a certain blind spot in Hillman’s account of how the ego should be “subjected” to the dream (or fantasy etc.) images. There are two interrelated points I made, though in a rather too quick and compressed fashion. So let’s unpack them a little more. We can see where the blind spot is when...

The language of having

If we want to take perspective reversal seriously, we have to revise some of the language we use. Rather than saying, for instance, I “had” a dream (or fantasy) we should say “I was in a dream”; similarly, when we describe our experience, we should say “in my dream I saw …”. In other words, we would speak about our dream experience as if it happened to us when we (metaphorically) went there...

Having and being had, and the inhuman reaches of the soul

When he writes about dreams, Hillman virtually never refrains from reminding us of the curious fact that we talk about them as if we were having them, but that we experience them as if they were having us. In sleep, I am thoroughly immersed in the dream. Only on waking do I reverse this fact and believe the dream is in me. At night the dream has me, but in the morning I say, I had a dream. (DU...

Dreams of the soul, visions of the spirit

In one of the most fascinating passages of "The Dream and the Underworld", Hillman considers dream characters: “In dreams we are visited by the daimones, nymphs, heroes, and Gods, shaped like our friends of last evening.” But the next question is obvious: “why don’t the shades and Gods come in their own shapes?" And once again Hillman’s answer has to do with the difference between soul and spirit.

The spirit of Jung, and the spirit of Hillman

In recent posts, I have discussed Hillman’s distinction between soul-work and spirit-work (doing psychology vs. spiritual development). Hillman claims Jung’s ancestry here, but there are also grave differences in how they understood these notions.

The Mana Personality vs. the Self

I have criticized Hillman for saying that Jung’s archetypes of the Self and the Wise Old Man are the same — mostly for the reason that Jung in many passages clearly speaks as if these are not just not the same, but even widely separated notions. There is, however, one very central passage in Jung’s work where he explicitly discusses the difference between the Wise Old Man and the Self archetypes.

Leif Frenzel is a writer and independent researcher. He has a background in philosophy, literature, music, and information technology. His recent interest is Jungian psychology, especially synchronicities and the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious.

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