Tuesday, August 07, 2007



I have a lot of time for Carl Gustav Jung, ever since he said in 1959 : "The greatest danger is Man himself. He is the great danger - and we are pitifully unaware of it"

Here is something more on Jung :

"Was Jung a mystic?

My short answer is, yes of course Jung was a mystic. His work makes no sense otherwise.

But what kind of mysticism was it?

In a 1959 interview on the BBC program "Face to Face," John Freeman asked Jung whether he believed in God. Jung's answer was, “I do not need to believe in God; I know.” Here is the excerpt from the interview:

Freeman: And did he make you attend church regularly?
Jung: Always, that was quite natural. Everybody went to the church on Sunday.Freeman: And did you believe in God?Jung: Oh, yes.
Freeman: Do you now believe in God.Jung: Yes. Now? …[long pause] Difficult to answer. I know. I needn't… I don't need to believe. I know.

You may be interested in hearing this interview. An audio clip of this excerpt is available on the website of the Jung Society of Atlanta.

After giving the BBC interview, Jung received letters from many people who had heard the radio broadcast. Jung then clarified his views in a letter to The Listener, January 21, 1960 [1A]. In some ways his clarification raises even more issues. Jung wrote:

Sir - So many letters I have received have emphasized my statement about 'knowing' (of God) [in Face to Face, The Listener, October 29].

My opinion about knowledge of God is an unconventional way of thinking, and I quite understand if it should be suggested that I am no Christian.

Yet I think of myself as a Christian since I am entirely based upon Christian concepts.
I only try to escape their internal contradictions by introducing a more modest attitude, which takes into consideration the immense darkness of the human mind.

The Christian idea proves its vitality by a continuous evolution, just like Buddhism. Our time certainly demands some new thought in this respect, as we cannot continue to think in an antique or medieval way, when we enter the sphere of religious experience.

I did not say in the broadcast, "There is a God." I said "I do not need to believe in God; I know."

Which does not mean: I do know a certain God (Zeus, Jahwe, Allah, the Trinitarian God, etc.) but rather: I do know that I am obviously confronted with a factor unknown in itself, which I call 'God' in consensu omnium [consent of everyone] "'quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus creditur"). ["What has been believed always, everywhere, and by all"] I remember Him, I evoke Him, whenever I use His name overcome by anger or by fear, whenever I involuntarily say: "Oh God!"That happens when I meet somebody or something stronger than myself.

It is an apt name given to all overpowering emotions in my own psychical system subduing my conscious will and usurping control over myself. This is the name by which I designate all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans, and intentions and change the course of my life for better or worse.

In accordance with tradition I call the power of fate in this positive as well as negative aspect, and inasmuch as its origin is beyond my control, 'god', a 'personal god', since my fate means very much myself, particularly when it approaches me in the form of conscience as a vox Dei, with which I can even converse and argue. (We do and, at the same time, we know that we do. One is subject as well as object.)Yet I should consider it an intellectual immorality to indulge in the belief that my view of a god is the universal, metaphysical Being of the confessions or 'philosophies'.

I do neither commit the impertinence of a hypostasis, nor of an arrogant qualification such as: 'God can only be good.' Only my experience can be good or evil, but I know that the superior will is based upon a foundation which transcends human imagination.

Since I know of my collision with a superior will in my own psychical system, I know of God, and if I should venture the illegitimate hypostasis of my image, I would say, of a God beyond good and evil, just as much dwelling in myself as everywhere else: Deus est circulus cuius centrum est ubique, cuis circumferentia vero nusquam. [God is a circle whose center is everywhere, but whose circumference is nowhere]

Yours, etc.,

Carl Gustav Jung

Of course there are limits to human knowledge - not least of our emotions - and always will be. But this does not necessarily imply the existence of a 'supernatural' being. All Jung is saying here is that he has a gut-feeling about the unknowable.
AC, why can't "a gut feeling about the unknowable" also be called "a faith"
Isn't that what a faith is? A presumption unsupported by evidence.
Wasn't it Blaise 'The Wager' Pascal who had this pensee about the Heart having its reasons of which Reason knows nothing"... ?

And doesn't "a presumption unsupported by evidence" include an Atheistic faith as well as a Theistic faith...?

Or maybe I'm just guilty of an intellectually spiritual arrogance ?

God, that last sentence really does sound conceited - please forgive me AC - it's been a long day !
No, Richard, it does NOT! Atheism is not a "faith" unsupported by evidence. Atheism is lack of belief in the existence of God in the absence of convincing evidence for His [Her or Its] existence. It is a viewpoint based on the balance of probabilities. Atheists cannot - and don't claim to - disprove the existence of God: you cannot prove a negative. They do maintain that it is for the theist to produce convincing proofs - beyond blind faith - that God exists; and when such proof is produced, atheists are prepared to reconsider their attitude.

Believers in a "faith", however, are not prepared to do this, so there is no comparison between the two stances.

This is elementary logic. The claim that atheism is a "faith" is bunkum.
To my mind, it all depends what we mean by "faith"...and, as I see it, neither of us are agreed on that word, thus creating difficulties for us.

For me, I have absolutely no doubt that atheism is a "faith" of a secular kind...

The atheist believes, in faith, there is no God.

The theist believes, in faith, there is a God.

One's right, the other's wrong - but neither can 'prove' the existence - or non-existence - of God either way.

So, both are 'faiths'.
Have it your own way, Richard. If you can't understand the difference between a positive and a negative, how do you think this technology we're communicating by works?

You need to read a book on elementary logic.

You are a Humpty Dumpty person.

Not worth arguing with.
I kind of detect a certain contradiction in Jung's words. To know is not to believe, to me it is something different.

Come on friends, it's my turn now to call you to your good senses.
Yes indeed, Jose. There are intelligent discussions of these matters on Stephen Law's and Barefoot Bum's philosophy blogs [links via anticant's arena].

Richard, however, doesn't read philosophers except for the twaddler Joad, whose idea of 'ethical' behaviour was to pose as a national moral pundit while cheating the railways, and then undergo a near-deathbed conversion to Christianity.
Methinks he doth protesteth too much...
I don't like humbugs, Richard.
That's unfair, AC - and you know it.
No it isn't, and you're one as well because of your refusal to read opinions you disagree with in a knee-jerk way before sounding off about them.

You aren't a debater, Richard. You're a declaimer, and I really can't be bothered with this level of 'argument' any more.
Yes it is unfair, AC - and I am astonished someone like you can't see that.

I've obviously hit a raw nerve somewhere - I apologise - because the last thing I want to do is cause irritation and/or distress.
I am not 'distressed', Richard - it doesn't matter to me in the least what your beliefs about God are. But I am increasingly irritated by your irrational and irresponsible methods of argument, and discussion with you no longer interests me.

Sorry - and no personal hard feelings - but there it is.
Sometimes we cannot see the wood because of the tree. We humans are so and should never forget that discussions are meant to carry us to the correct conclusion.

However discussions of knowledge should prevail over and above others that are inherent to the individual personality.

Ideologies can be bent, the ingrained idea of divinity ought by all means to be left to the persona's own assessment without any kind of interferences.

My view notwithstanding.
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