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Carl Jung: Man in my view is enclosed in the psyche (not in his psyche).

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Letters Volume II

To Joseph Goldbrunner

Dear Herr Goldbrunner, 14May 1950

Permit me, as one who is, in a manner of speaking, both known and unknown to you, to express my best thanks for your objective and sympathetic exposition of my psychology.

There are indeed few authors, as you yourself have probably observed, who could wring from themselves an objective evaluation of my work.

So much the more reason for me to be sincerely grateful to you for your achievement.

I would gladly content myself with an unqualified appreciation of your book but for a few points which seem to me to require clarification.

You rightly emphasize that man in my view is enclosed in the psyche (not in his psyche).

Could you name me any idea that is not psychic?

Can man adopt any standpoint outside the psyche?

He may assert that he can, but the assertion does not create a point outside, and were he there he would have no psyche.

Everything that touches us and that we touch is a reflection, therefore psychic.

That my psychology is wholly imprisoned in the psyche is a fact that cannot be otherwise.

You would not, presumably, object that geology treats of nothing but the earth, or that astronomy only circles round the starry sky?

Psychology is, strictly speaking, the science of conscious contents.

Its object therefore is not metaphysical, otherwise it would be metaphysics.

Does one hold it against physics that it is not metaphysics?

It is self-evident that all objects of physics are physical phenomena.

Why should psychology be the only exception to this rule?

Everything that man conceives as God is a psychic image, and it is no less an image even if he asseverates a thousand times that it is not an image.

If it were not, he would be unable to conceive anything at all.

That is why Meister Eckhart says, quite rightly, “God is pure nothing.”

As an empirical science, psychology can only establish that the unconscious spontaneously produces images which have always been spoken of as “God-images.”

But as the nature of the psyche is wholly unknown to us, science cannot establish what the image is a reflection of.

We come here to the “frontier of the human,” of which G. von Le Fort says that it is the “portcullis of God.”

In my private capacity as a man I can only concur with this view, but with the best will in the world I cannot maintain that this is a verifiable assertion, which is what science is all about in the end.

It is a subjective confession which has no place in science.

It is equally out of place to say that individuation is self-redemption.

This is precisely what it is not.

As you yourself have described so beautifully, man exposes himself to all the powers of the non-ego, of heaven and hell, of grace and destruction, in order to reach that point where he has become simple enough to accept those influences, or whatever it is we call “God’s will,” which come from the Unfathomable and whose source lies behind those same psychic images which both reveal and conceal.

How one could see through this “hoarding” is, frankly, beyond my comprehension.

How can one see, think, or conceive that which is non-psychic?

Even if I aver that it is not psychic, it is still my conception standing before the unknowable fact; and if it is non-psychic then it cannot be conceived at all.

We take it for granted that images are reflections of something.

In so far as this something is supposed not to be psychic, it is necessarily inconceivable-even the spectacular blue of the sky does not exist in physics but is expressed by the mathematical concept of wave-lengths.

Am I, then, to declare that because I see blue, blue exists in itself and is not psychic?

That would be against my better knowledge and therefore immoral.

I am deeply impressed by man’s proneness to error and self-deception.

I therefore deem it a moral command not to make assertions about things we can neither see nor prove, and I deem it an epistemological transgression if one nevertheless does so.

These rules hold good for empirical science; metaphysics holds to others.

I recognize the rules of empirical science as binding upon myself.

Hence no metaphysical assertions will be found in my writings, and, n.b., no denials of metaphysical assertions.

Hoping that these explanations may perhaps be of service to you,

I remain,

Yours very sincerely, C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 555-557

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Great Sites to visit:
1. Jenna Lilla’s Path of the Soul http://jennalilla.org/
2. Steve Jung-Hearted Parker’s Jung Currents http://jungcurrents.com/
3. Frith Luton’s Jungian Dream Analysis and Psychotherapy: http://frithluton.com/articles/