Ways of soul-making: mystification

Every question for which we have found an answer does also reveal, at the same time, some uncertain aspects — aspects that aren’t just unanswered yet, but somehow seem all the more difficult to figure out now since we know what we’ve learned. Questions, in a word, lead to answers which in turn always seem to lead to more questions. When we look at this fact of life from the perspective of...

On not confusing stages with the whole, or stages with the goal

In my last post I have outlined an interpretation of Hillman’s central idea of soul-making, and connected it with the notion of projection (in analytical psychology), the relationship between individual souls and the collective psyche, and the theoretical move of treating both individual human beings and ideas as souls which can be perceived as personalized. In the background of this line of...

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...

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...

Shadow reversal and ego theory

I have started to look at Hillman’s suggestion that the ego, rather than casting a shadow, is itself cast by the latter; and I have noted that this suggestion comes within a larger endeavor on his part to re-interpret the whole notion of the ego. Let’s dive a little deeper into Hillman’s account of the ego, then. 1. The ego is one of multiple complexes that exist within an individual human being...

Shadow reversal

A little into The Dream and the Underworld, when he discusses the relationship between the day world and the night world, Hillman makes yet another suggestion that is an instance of the technique of “perspective reversal”. This time it is about the shadow (in its Jungian understanding of the term). Since the movements of the body and its shadow are simultaneous and inseparable, that is, co...

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.

Paths to hidden meaning

The archetypal idea of a “hidden meaning behind chaotic events in life” appears when subjects find themselves in certain types of situation: when it seems that “there is no way out”. Jung says this both in the synchronicities essay and in the spirit essay. Yet there is a third line of thought in his work which arrives at the same point, but via an entirely different route.

Spirit and its origin myth

In the case of Spirit, Jung does not talk about an individual’s process of integrating archetypal contents as psychological functions: he claims that such a process happened as an overarching development in the history of the human species. That, of course, is a variation on an origin myth: a phantasy, projected backwards into history.

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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