Friday, March 15, 2013

Jung and Heidegger

     Clearly "God after God" (title stolen from Steven Wasserstrom) is the shared theme between Heidegger and Jung. Of course it is also the theme of the whole of the modern age since Francis Bacon (and well before, back into the Greeks and their Indo-European--and Laurentian and Gondwana ancestors, following Michael Witzel). Having said all (or nothing), I do believe that the opposition between Enlightenment and "shadow" culture (Eugene Taylor) is the fundamental basis for understanding Jung. He wanted to be both, Personality # 1 and Personality #2, and when in either of them felt an unreasonable animus (or anima) for the other.

     Jung was fundamentally a man of the Right, as Jay Sherry and others have demonstrated, and in this a man of his social class and era--Burkhart and Bachofen, etc.-- but he was at the same time a Kantian and a scientist (association experiment, astrological statistics, etc.). Heidegger invested his life in the same aporia, paradox, conundrum or Mystery: that what is "correct" may not be fundamentally "right." It's rather parallel to Plato's "pleasant" versus "good." And this is where we are today, as Jungians and postmoderns. Do we live in facticity or in meditative thinking, and can--as Jung imagined--we have both? Imagination has been shunted off onto the highest of high culture and the lowest of the low. The vast middle range is the domain of "science." Which of the borderlands should we Jungians explore? Both, of course, but at the same time we have to invade science.

     Here's my latest thought on that subject: God arose as a symbol to mediate two parts of the brain, the reptilian/mamalian (sometimes characterized as the "fast") brain (brainstem, limbic, basal ganglia), and the human ("slow") brain characterized by inhibition (frontal cortex). Jung thematized this opposition when he talked about the "sympathetic nervous system" and in his fascination with the dream image of the radiolarian (wholly "sympathetic"). Finding a way to integrate the two is hard, and happens seldom in human life. The great religions all aim at this, and do occasionally succeed (minfulness in its essential similarity to nirvana is a Buddhist example).

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