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Modern Psychology: C. G. Jung’s Lectures at the ETH Zürich, 1933-1941

Lecture IV 10th November, 1933

We are laboriously working our way through the pre-history of psychology.

The last lecture came to a close with the French Revolution from which a new spirit was born ; we will now return to Germany where we shall also see the dawning of a new attitude.

Herbart (1776-1841) is the next to follow the empirical approach.

He moves along the lines of the English School which Hume and Hartley represent, he is therefore also interested in association psychology.

Adopting Burne’s idea of “gentle force”, Herbart establishes the principle of attraction and repulsion of ideas; he is the father of the new physiological and experimental psychology.

Herbart is followed by Fechner and Wundt.

With the latter a culminating point is reached.

Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801-1887) is the founder of a new psychological point of view: psycho-physics, which has proved essential for the whole development of psychology.

His work “Elementen der Psycho-physic ” (Rudiments of Psycho-physics – 1860) is based on the Weber law, which is called later the Fechner-Weber law.

This law lays down that the relative differences in stimuli correspond to the same differences in sensation intensity.

There is, therefore, a certain possibility of approaching the psyche through measurements.

Fechner sets up tables and calculations, but his law is only valid within certain limits.

Had this been his only book, we could have afforded to ignore him, but he was also a philosopher and the titles alone of his further works speak of his profound
interest in the other side.

In 1836 “Das Biichlein vom Leb en nach dem Tode” (The book of Life after Death] appeared, it was followed in 1848 by “Nanna, oder iiber das Seelenleben der Pflanzen” (Nanna, or concerning the psychic life of plants) and in 1851 by “Zend Avesta, oder iiber die Dinge des Himmels und des Jenseits ” (Zend Avesta, or concerning the things of heaven and the world beyond).

In these works, which are the confession of his personal psychological convictions, Fechner defends the standpoint of a universal psycho-physical parallelism: the psyche is simply the inner manifestation, the “self-manifestation” of the thing and the body is the outer or “foreign manifestation ” of the psychic.

Fechners great value is that he discriminates between an empirical inner world and an empirical outer world.

He further holds that not only human bodies, but all bodies undoubtedly possess an inner manifestation, a “self-manifestation”.

He speaks of mother earth for instance, as being alive and as possessing a soul, which is as the soul of an angel, embracing the totality of human souls.

The totality of human brains thus constitutes the brain of the earth soul, the highest omniscient being of the godhead.

This train of thought is not interesting as philosophy, but it is as psychology, for Fechner makes the important confession that his single soul is not isolated, but is contained in a whole.

He is the first to conceive of a psychic cohesion ruling over all, which can only be reached by thought and is not contained in the single psyche.

C. G. Carus (1789- 869) , a doctor and philosopher, follows the same line of thought.

He differs nevertheless from Fechner in that he is principally a philosopher and psychologist, he is not an empiricist, but a pantheist influenced by Schelling. His value lies in his comparative psychology.

In 1846 his book Psyche; zur Entwicklungsges chichte der Seele” (Psyche; concerning the history of the development of the soul] appeared and
in 1866 “Vergleichende Psychologie” (Comparative Psychology.].

He is the first to call the universal soul the unconscious and his works contain highly modern points of view with regard to it:

“The key to the understanding of the nature of the conscious life of the psyche lies in the region of the unconscious”.

He looks up on the psyche as the creative principle of the body.

To illustrate the relation of the unconscious to the conscious, he uses the allegory of the stream: the life of the psyche is an unceasingly winding great stream, which is lit by the sun, that is by consciousness, only in the small part which is its surface.

As the stream bears away many valuable things that remain undiscovered, so many treasures are hidden from us and the real dynamic force spends
itself in the unseen, in the unconscious.

This strikingly recalls Kant, but in his case the dynamic aspect was missing.

The key to real psychology is only to be found in the darkness; both the diseases of the mind and the creative principle originate in the dark sphere of the unconscious.

Carus believes that unconscious will and intelligence exist in cosmic extension.

This philosophy was taken up later by E. von Hartmann.

The next link however, in this long chain is Schopenhauer.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) is a great phenomenon and his message to the world is of the utmost importance.

Before his time the belief was widely held that the psyche could be rationally understood, being principally composed of conscious processes.

The genius of Schopenhauer brought an answer to the world which thousands had been obscurely groping for and for which they had looked to
the empiricists in vain.

This new note is the voice of suffering: the human psyche is not only order and purpose, it is suffering.

In contradiction to all rational belief, Schopenhauer brings forward the idea of the existence of a split between intellect, on the one side, and a blind will or creative urge, on the other. He might just as well have called this will the unconscious.

His conception of the will has the character of chaos, whereas Caru’ idea of the creative will is almost too beautiful and sweet, it verges on the mawkish and tedious.

Schopenhauer sees a tragic conflict between consciousness and a dark, miserable, suffering will.

He thus brings a point of view into the psychological situation which we must not allow ourselves to lose sight of, for it concerns modern man
most closely.

In his later writings , such as “Ueber die anscheinende Ab sichtlichkeit und iiber den Willen in die Natur” (Concerning the apparent purpose and the will in nature] , he appears to draw nearer to Carus; but on the whole he continues to see the world as an accidental and faulty creation to which the intellect alone can bring order.

For this purpose, the intellect must hold up a mirror to the blind disorder so that it may recognise its work of destruction.

This peculiarly pessimistic philosophy is strongly influenced by the East.

We see a similar denial of Christian ideas for the first time in France when the Revolution enthroned the Deesse de la Raison in Notre-Dame, in the place of the Christian God.

Never before had Christianity been publicly denied and this blow shook the walls of the Church to their foundations.

People awoke to the fact that accepted truths could be openly and officially questioned, but nobody foresaw then that the whole of civilization would rock.

Yet this was no solitary outbreak, but a movement that found its echo in the whole world; forces had been let loose which could no longer remain imprisoned in the old forms.

But in this hour of overthrow and destruction, human instinct was at work to bring about a compensatory action: a Frenchman, Anquetil-Duperron, went to the East in search of the truth.

It was as if Europe had been a single human being, seeking for a new hope in exchange for the one it had lost.

The first shreds of Eastern light, which Anquetil-Duperron brought back with the Upanishads, poured into the cracks made by the French Revolution, and, as France had destroyed, so it was France who first brought something new and living to broken hopes.

Schopenhauer was influenced by this message and translated it into language which the West could understand, into philosophy.

Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906) was influenced by his great predecessor Schopenhauer and also by Schelling and Hebbel, but his philosophy comes direct
from Carus.

Hartmann conceives of the unconscious as the unity of will and idea, at the same time it is the active purposive foundation of the world of a
divine and absolute nature.

He is more a philosopher than a psychologist and wrote “Die Philosophie des Unb ewussten ” (The Philosophy of the Unconscious – 1869).

In the meantime a new development had been taking place in France.

Maine de Biron (1766-1824) recognizes an unconscious sphere which, however, he presents with the characteristics of consciousness.

Ribot and Binet follow in his footsteps.

The latter’ s conception of the psyche as a totality is interesting. In his book “Alterations de la personalite”, Binet’s point of view is for the most part modern, in that he does not start from separate units but from the totality of the human personality.

Pierre Jan et and Liebault are followers of Binet.

We must now turn to America in order to continue this line of development.

William James (1842-1910) steps into the front rank of psychologists with his work “Principles of Psychology”, and carries us still further.

He leads psychology away from academic circles to the investigation of the personality itself and into the realm of the doctor.

Here we enter the real sphere of these lectures, to which this introduction has been leading.

The people I am going to speak to you about are not the striking personalities to which the world is usually attracted.

Hitherto it is the man of action who has principally awakened the historian’s interest and held the stage; but other people exist also, psychic people, people whose activity is inward, they do not stand out in the same way and yet history also provides us with authentic records of their existence: in the Acta Sanctorum, for instance, in the trials for witchcraft and later in the miraculous testimonies of the stigmatists and somnambulists.

In the XVIIIth century an extensive literature already existed which deals with psychic personalities.

Justinus Kerner (1786-1862) has left us one of these records in his work “Die Seherin von Prevorst ” (The Clairvoyante of Prevorst) which appeared in 1829.

It is the history of his patient’s illness, the story of a psychic personality.

Nobody seems to have thought of bringing it into line with modern psychology, yet we shall find that it contains some very interesting psychic phenomena.

The further title of the book runs “Eroffnungen iib er das innere Leb en des Menschen und iib er das Hereinragen einer Geisterwelt in die unsere ” (Disclosures concerning the inner life of man and concerning the invasion of our world by a world of spirits) and shows us where the real attraction of this story lay for Kerner, that is, in the fact of the existence of an obj ective, substantial world of spirits. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture I, Pages 21-24.

End of the Introduction.