Memories, Dreams, Reflections

All conceivable statements are made by the psyche. Among other things, the psyche appears as a dynamic process which rests on a foundation of antithesis, on a flow of energy between two poles. It is a general rule of logic that “principles are not to be multiplied beyond the necessary.” Therefore, since interpretation in terms of energy has proved a generally valid principle of explanation in the natural sciences, we must limit ourselves to it in psychology also.

No firm facts are available which would recommend some other view; moreover, the antithetical or polaristic nature of the psyche and its contents is verified by psychological experience. Now if the dynamic conception of the psyche is correct, all statements which seek to overstep the limits of the psyche’s polarity statements about a metaphysical reality, for example must be paradoxical if they are to lay claim to any sort of validity.

The psyche cannot leap beyond itself. It cannot set up any absolute truths, for its own polarity determines the relativity of its statements. Wherever the psyche does announce absolute truths such as, for example, “God is motion,” or “God is One” it necessarily falls into one or the other of its own antitheses. For the two statements might equally well be: “God is rest” or “God is All.”

Through one-sidedness the psyche disintegrates and loses its capacity for cognition. It becomes an unreflective (because unreflectable) succession of psychic states, each of which fancies itself its own justification because it does not, or does not yet, see any other state.

In saying this we are not expressing a value judgment, but only pointing out that the limit is very frequently overstepped. Indeed, this is inevitable, for, as Heraclitus says, “Everything is flux”. Thesis is followed by antithesis, and between the two is generated a third factor, a lysis which was not perceptible before. In this the psyche once again merely demonstrates its antithetical nature and at no point has really got outside itself.

In my effort to depict the limitations of the psyche I do not mean to imply that only the psyche exists. It is merely that, so far as perception and cognition are concerned, we cannot see beyond the psyche.

Science is tacitly convinced that a non- psychic, transcendental object exists. But science also knows how difficult it is to grasp the real nature of the object, especially when the organ of perception fails or is lacking, and when the appropriate modes of thought do not exist or have still to be created. In cases where neither our sense organs nor their artificial aids can attest the presence of a real object, the difficulties mount enormously, so that one feels tempted to assert that there is simply no real object present.

I have never drawn this overhasty conclusion, for I have never been inclined to think that our senses were capable of perceiving all forms of being. I have, therefore, even hazarded the postulate that the phenomenon of archetypal configurations which are psychic events par excellence may be founded upon a psychoid base, that is, upon an only partially psychic and possibly altogether different form of being.

For lack of empirical data I have neither knowledge nor understanding of such forms of being, which are commonly called spiritual. From the point of view of science, it is immaterial what I may believe on that score, and I must accept my ignorance. But insofar as the archetypes act upon me, they are real and actual to me, even though I do not know what their real nature is.

This applies, of course, not only to the archetypes but to the nature of the psyche in general. Whatever it may state about itself, it will never get beyond itself. All comprehension and all that is comprehended is in itself psychic, and to that extent we are hopelessly cooped up in an exclusively psychic world.

Nevertheless, we have good reason to suppose that behind this veil there exists the uncomprehended absolute object which affects and influences
us and to suppose it even, or particularly, in the case of psychic phenomena about which no verifiable statements can be made. Statements concerning possibility or impossibility are valid only in specialized fields; outside those fields they are merely arrogant presumptions. ~Carl Jung; Memories, Dreams and Reflections