Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume I, 1906-1950 (Vol 1)
Dear Dr. Vetter, 8 April 1932
The chief difficulty seems to be the concept of transcendence.
For me this concept is only epistemological, but for you, if I understand you correctly, it is something almost theological. Cf. the Christian concept of the Trinity, resulting from the efforts of the old theologians to push God out of the sphere of psychic experience into the Absolute.
We all know that this was done for the (necessary) purpose of bolstering up the authority of the Church against continual erosion by Gnosis and heresy.
Thus man was most effectively separated from God and the intercession of Ecclesia Mater became unavoidable.
It is in fact the great achievement of Protestantism that this transcendence, in practice at least, came a cropper.
Actually it is not correct to say that there is no mother goddess in the Christian Trinity.
The mother is simply veiled by the Holy Ghost (Sophia), which is the connecting link between Father and Son.
It is the breath that moves to and fro between them, according to the Catholic view.
This veiling of the mother (for the reasons mentioned above) had the result that the mother then appeared in an all the more concrete and authoritarian form as Ecclesia.
You are perfectly right when you say that an orthodox theologian could never equate God and the unconscious.
In my opinion he cannot do so because he imagines he can make assertions about God.
I don’t imagine I can, so that it doesn’t matter to me in the slightest whether God and the unconscious are ultimately identical or not.
The mother is, I maintain, only one aspect of the unconscious.
There is also a father aspect, though I wouldn’t attribute to these aspects more than a necessary illusionary character, due to the mental difficulty of conceiving anything that is not concrete and the incapacity of our language to express anything that is not a verbal image.
In a certain sense I could say of the collective unconscious exactly what Kant said of the Ding an sich-that it is merely a negative borderline concept, which however cannot prevent us from framing . . .1 or hypotheses about its possible nature as though it were an object of human experience.
But we do not know whether the unconscious an sich is unlimited, whether it is experienceable in part or not at all.
It could be absolute, i.e., inexperienceable.
At all events it is absolutely necessary for us to give up the anthropomorphism of the Christian concept of transcendence if we do not want to commit flagrant transgressions.
I grant you that I am on the best way to delivering up the Christian concept of the spirit to the chaos of Gnosis again, from which it was so carefully insulated.
But in my view the spirit is alive only when it is an adventure eternally renewed.
As soon as it is held fast it is nothing but a man-made expression of a particular cultural form.
Of course the cultural form owes its very existence to the intervention of a true and living spirit, but once it is fixed it has long ceased to be.
In my view the woolliness of our present-day thinking comes from our illegitimately granting it prerogatives which appear to endow thinking with faculties it doesn’t really possess.
Hence my function theory.
I hope we can meet again sometime and that we can then [ continue] our discussion by word of mouth.
[Note: The end of the letter is missing.] ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 90-93