a. The General Attitude of Consciousness

As I have already explained in the previous section, the introvert is distinguished from the extravert by the fact that he does not, like the latter, orient himself by the object and by objective data, but by subjective factors.

I also mentioned that the introvert interposes a subjective view between the perception of the object and his own action, which prevents the action from assuming a character that fits the objective situation.

Naturally this is a special instance, mentioned by way of example and intended to serve only as a simple illustration.

We must now attempt a formulation on a broader basis.

Although the introverted consciousness is naturally aware of external conditions, it selects the subjective determinants as the decisive ones.

It is therefore oriented by the factor in perception and cognition which responds to the sense stimulus in accordance with the individual’s subjective disposition.

For example, two people see the same object, but they never see it in such a way that the images they receive are absolutely identical.

Quite apart from the variable acuteness of the sense organs and the personal equation, there often exists a radical difference, both in kind and in degree, in the psychic assimilation of the perceptual image.

Whereas the extravert continually appeals to what comes to him from the object, the introvert relies principally on what the sense impression constellates in the subject.

The difference in the case of a single apperception may, of course, be very delicate, but in the total psychic economy it makes itself felt in the highest degree, particularly in the effect it has on the ego.

If I may anticipate, I consider the viewpoint which inclines, with Weininger, to describe the introverted attitude as philautic, autoerotic, egocentric, subjectivistic, egotistic, etc., to be misleading in principle and thoroughly depreciatory.

It reflects the normal bias of the extraverted attitude in regard to the nature of the introvert.

We must not forget—although the extravert is only too prone to do so—that perception and cognition are not purely objective, but are also subjectively conditioned.

The world exists not merely in itself, but also as it appears to me. Indeed, at bottom, we have absolutely no criterion that could help us to form a judgment of a world which was unassimilable by the subject.

If we were to ignore the subjective factor, it would be a complete denial of the great doubt as to the possibility of absolute cognition.

And this would mean a relapse into the stale and hollow positivism that marred the turn of the century—an attitude of intellectual arrogance accompanied by crudeness of feeling, a violation of life as stupid as it is presumptuous.

By overvaluing our capacity for objective cognition we repress the importance of the subjective factor, which simply means a denial of the subject.

But what is the subject?

The subject is man himself—we are the subject.

Only a sick mind could forget that cognition must have a subject, and that there is no knowledge whatever and therefore no world at all unless “I know” has been said, though with this statement one has already expressed the subjective limitation of all knowledge.

This applies to all the psychic functions: they have a subject which is just as indispensable as the object.

It is characteristic of our present extraverted sense of values that the word “subjective” usually sounds like a reproof; at all events the epithet “merely subjective” is brandished like a weapon over the head of anyone who is not boundlessly convinced of the absolute superiority of the object.

We must therefore be quite clear as to what “subjective” means in this inquiry.

By the subjective factor I understand that psychological action or reaction which merges with the effect produced by the object and so gives rise to a new psychic datum.

In so far as the subjective factor has, from the earliest times and among all peoples, remained in large measure constant, elementary perceptions and cognitions being almost universally the same, it is a reality that is just as firmly established as the external object.

If this were not so, any sort of permanent and essentially unchanging reality would be simply inconceivable, and any understanding of the past would be impossible.

In this sense, therefore, the subjective factor is as ineluctable a datum as the extent of the sea and the radius of the earth.

By the same token, the subjective factor has all the value of a co-determinant of the world we live in, a factor that can on no account be left out of our calculations.

It is another universal law, and whoever bases himself on it has a foundation as secure, as permanent, and as valid as the man who relies on the object.

But just as the object and objective data do not remain permanently the same, being perishable and subject to chance, so too the subjective factor is subject to variation and individual hazards.

For this reason its value is also merely relative.

That is to say, the excessive development of the introverted standpoint does not lead to a better and sounder use of the subjective factor, but rather to an artificial subjectivizing of consciousness which can hardly escape the reproach “merely subjective.”

This is then counterbalanced by a de-subjectivization which takes the form of an exaggerated extraverted attitude, an attitude aptly described by Weininger as “misautic.”

But since the introverted attitude is based on the ever-present, extremely real, and absolutely indispensable fact of psychic adaptation, expressions like “philautic,” “egocentric,” and so on are out of place and objectionable because they arouse the prejudice that it is always a question of the beloved ego.

Nothing could be more mistaken than such an assumption.

Yet one is continually meeting it in the judgments of the extravert on the introvert.

Not, of course, that I wish to ascribe this error to individual extraverts; it is rather to be put down to the generally accepted extraverted view which is by no means restricted to the extraverted type, for it has just as many representatives among introverts, very much to their own detriment.

The reproach of being untrue to their own nature can justly be levelled at the latter, whereas this at least cannot be held against the former.

The introverted attitude is normally oriented by the psychic structure, which is in principle hereditary and is inborn in the subject.

This must not be assumed, however, to be simply identical with the subject’s ego, as is implied by the above designations of Weininger; it is rather the psychic structure of the subject prior to any ego-development.

The really fundamental subject, the self, is far more comprehensive than the ego, since the former includes the unconscious whereas the latter is essentially the focal point of consciousness.

Were the ego identical with the self, it would be inconceivable how we could sometimes see ourselves in dreams in quite different forms and with entirely different meanings.

But it is a characteristic peculiarity of the introvert, which is as much in keeping with his own inclination as with the general bias, to confuse his ego with the self, and to exalt it as the subject of the psychic process, thus bringing about the aforementioned subjectivization of consciousness which alienates him from the object.

The psychic structure is the same as what Semon calls “mneme” and what I call the “collective unconscious.”

The individual self is a portion or segment or representative of something present in all living creatures, an exponent of the specific mode of psychological behaviour, which varies from species to species and is inborn in each of its members.

The inborn mode of acting has long been known as instinct, and for the inborn mode of psychic apprehension I have proposed the term archetype.

I may assume that what is understood by instinct is familiar to everyone.

It is another matter with the archetype.

What I understand by it is identical with the “primordial image,” a term borrowed from Jacob Burckhardt, and I describe it as such in the Definitions that conclude this book.

I must here refer the reader to the definition “Image.”

The archetype is a symbolic formula which always begins to function when there are no conscious ideas present, or when conscious ideas are inhibited for internal or external reasons.

The contents of the collective unconscious are represented in consciousness in the form of pronounced preferences and definite ways of looking at things.

These subjective tendencies and views are generally regarded by the individual as being determined by the object—incorrectly, since they have their source in the unconscious structure of the psyche
and are merely released by the effect of the object.

They are stronger than the object’s influence, their psychic value is higher, so that they superimpose themselves on all impressions.

Thus, just as it seems incomprehensible to the introvert that the object should always be the decisive factor, it remains an enigma to the extravert how a subjective standpoint can be superior to the objective situation.

He inevitably comes to the conclusion that the introvert is either a conceited egoist or crack-brained bigot.

Today he would be suspected of harbouring an unconscious power-complex.

The introvert certainly lays himself open to these suspicions, for his positive, highly generalizing manner of expression, which appears to rule out every other opinion from the start, lends countenance to all the extravert’s prejudices.

Moreover the inflexibility of his subjective judgment, setting itself above all objective data, is sufficient in itself to create the impression of marked egocentricity.

Faced with this prejudice the introvert is usually at a loss for the right argument, for he is quite unaware of the unconscious but generally quite valid assumptions on which his subjective judgment
and his subjective perceptions are based.

In the fashion of the times he looks outside for an answer, instead of seeking it behind his own consciousness.

Should he become neurotic, it is the sign of an almost complete identity of the ego with the self; the importance of the self is reduced to nil, while the ego is inflated beyond measure.

The whole world-creating force of the subjective factor becomes concentrated in the ego, producing a boundless power-complex and a fatuous egocentricity.

Every psychology which reduces the essence of man to the unconscious power drive springs from this kind of disposition.

Many of Nietzsche’s lapses in taste, for example, are due to this subjectivization of consciousness. ~Carl Jung, Psychological Types, Pages 373-378

Liked it? Take a second to support Mr. Purrington on Patreon!