Monday, 18 February 2013

Questioning the Unconscious.

According to Carl Jung, all human beings are born equipped with a copy of the Collective Unconscious – that blueprint of ‘archetypes’ which enable us to have an innate understanding of life’s major imperatives. One of these is suspicion of the ‘stranger’ or ‘other’ which, if Jung was right, is presumably the basis of racism.

So what about those of us who object to racism, believing it to be unjust, irrational and cruel? It would seem that we are rejecting an element of the Collective Unconscious. Does that mean we’re wrong?

I’ll go with ‘no, it doesn’t.’ I’ll go with the assumption that we have a right to adjust the archetypes. But it’s an interesting point.


andrea kiss said...

It is interesting. I've also heard racism explained away as being a left over instinct from different primitive species of humans reacting out of fear and territoriality when encountering another species of human. IDk.

JJ Beazley said...

Maybe that's how the archetypes got started.

I Don't Know?

Madeline said...

Whether or not racism has a biological component, I'd like to think that we're better than our instinctive urges. Every human society has murder and rape, and at some points in our evolution fulfilling these impulses could have been advantageous to the survival of the species. Conversely there is evidence in very early human groups (not even societies) that people took care of people who couldn't take care of themselves - people who were socially "useless" and might have even endangered the survival of the rest of the group by their existence.

My point is that our shared biology as humans seems to offer equal potential for hatred and love, compassion and brutality. Which is more human - to be good or to be evil? Which is more human - the instinctive feeling that "different = bad," or our intellect that tells us that assumptions are often wrong?

JJ Beazley said...

Like I said, we have a right to adjust the archetypes. I suppose, though, that you still have to delve into questions like:

1) Are notions of good and evil objective or subjective?

2) Is there some reason for the existence of humanity, or are we merely the result of a random accident, which modern scientific thought seems to favour?

3) If it's the latter, should our first priority be to raise our consciousness so as to make the human condition more tolerable, or should it be to survive with minimal risk and at whatever cost?

4) Are we limiting ourselves by considering the questions solely within the context of phenomenal reality, or should we be seeking to move forward into other psychic/spiritual dimensions?

5) Could that be the unwitting reason why some of us function at a higher level of consciousness?

This is surely the point at which the Buddhist concept of the angel and the monkey in man becomes apposite.

As it happens, I agree with you; we're on the same side.

This is a big subject for comment forms, isn't it? It's a lot easier to watch Ghostbusters (or read Moomin books.)

Madeline said...

Just my opinions ...

1) Depends on the perspective. From the perspective of humans, yes, I think there can be objective notions of good and evil. All human societies seem to be able to recognize them in their broadest forms, although they may disagree when it comes to the subtleties. But from the perspective of the universe, nothing is good or evil. Nothing matters at all.

2) No reason for our existence from the perspective of the universe. But we can make our own reasons.

3) The two aren't mutually exclusive. You could argue that if we survive while sacrificing what we value as humans (freedom, love, etc.) we aren't really surviving.

4) I'm not sure there's such a clear distinction between phenomenal reality and other dimensions. Ultimately all of our experiences, physical and spiritual, are just the result of chemical and electrical activity in the brain.

5) I'm not sure I believe in higher levels of consciousness.

You might be surprised by the metaphysical content of Moomin books.

I think you might like Halldor Laxness's Under the Glacier, if you can tolerate the weirdness of fish/woman transmogrification.

JJ Beazley said...

Are you telling me that Under the Glacier is about selkies? I don't find that so weird - unlikely, but not weird. I have a selkie story at the other blog: