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Carl Jung on Perfect Individuation

Carl Jung Depth Psychology Facebook Group

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Letters Volume II

To Henry A . Murray

Dear Dr. Murray, August 1956

Thank you ever so much for your kind letter. It is a great pleasure for me to hear of you after this long time.

I thank you also for your good birthday wishes.

My correspondence with Freud will not be published in the near future.

It must wait until I have left the premises for good.

I am very interested that you are lecturing about my psychology.

I am glad to know how successful you have been in delivering your

It seems to be an awfully difficult subject which I did not realize at all while writing my books.

It is true that the Bollingen Press was reluctant concerning the publication of my Answer to Job.

They were afraid of its causing still more prejudice against and anger with my unconventional views.

This is another of my books that demands some careful thinking.

I have always wished to make the acquaintance of Prof. Tillich, but I have never found an opportunity.

Your questions concerning “individuation” and “individual” are
highly philosophical and impressive.

It is perfectly true that I never described an “individuated person” for the simple reason that nobody would understand why I describe such a case, and most of my readers would be bored to tears.

I am also not such a great poet that I could produce a really worthwhile picture.

A genius like Goethe or Shakespeare might hope to be able to describe the lordly beauty and the divine completeness of an individuated old oak-tree, or the unique grotesqueness of a cactus.

But if a scientist risked doing the same, nobody would understand or appreciate it.

Science is only concerned with the average idea of an oak or a horse or man but not with their uniqueness.

Moreover an individuated human being is well-nigh impossible to describe as we have no standpoint outside the human sphere.

Thus we don’t know what man is.

We only can say that he is no animal, nor a plant, nor a crystal, but what he is is impossible to say.

We would need an intimate knowledge of the inhabitants of other planets, inasmuch as they can be compared with men, in order to enable us to form some idea of what man is.

From the standpoint of science the individual is negligible or a mere curiosity.

From the subjective standpoint, however, i.e., from the standpoint of the individual himself, the individual is all-important as he is the carrier of life, and his development and fulfillment are of paramount significance.

It is vital for each living being to become its own entelechia and to grow into that which it was from the very beginning.

This very vital and indispensable need of each living being means very little or nothing from a statistical standpoint, and nobody outside can be seriously interested in the fact that Mr. X is to become a good businessman or that Mrs. Y is to get six children.

The individuated human being is just ordinary and therefore almost invisible.

Necessarily all criteria of individuation are subjective and outside the purpose of science.

You ask: what feeling does he have and what values, thoughts, activities and relations to his surroundings?

Well, his feelings, thoughts, etc. are just anybody’s feelings, thoughts, etc.-quite ordinary, as a matter of fact, and not interesting at all, unless you happen to be particularly interested in that individual and his welfare.

He will be all right if he can fulfill himself as he was from the beginning.

He will have no need to be exaggerated, hypocritical, neurotic, or any other nuisance.

He will be “in modest harmony with nature.”

As Zen Buddhism says: first mountains are mountains and the sea is the sea.

Then mountains are no more mountains, the sea is no more the sea, and in the end the mountains will be the mountains and the sea will be the sea.

Nobody can have a vision and not be changed by it.

First he has no vision, and he is the man A, then he is himself plus a vision = the man B; and then it might be that the vision may influence his life, if he is not quite dull, and that is the man C.

No matter whether people think they are individuated or not, they are just what they are: in the one case a man plus an unconscious nuisance disturbing to himself-or, without it, unconscious of himself; or in the other case, conscious.

The criterion is consciousness.

The man with a neurosis who knows that he is neurotic is more individuated than the man without this consciousness.

The man who is a damned nuisance to his surroundings and knows it is more individuated than th e man who is blissfully unconscious of his nature, etc.

The scientific standpoint is good for many things.

In the case of individuation-though it has a certain auxiliary significance-in the deciding issue it means nothing at all .

If a man is contradicted by himself and does not know it, he is an illusionist, but if he knows that he contradicts himself, he is individuated.

According to Schopenhauer man’s only divine quality is his humour.

If the Pope has humour, or if Albert Schweitzer knows that he ran away from the European problem, or Winston Churchill is aware of what an insupportable bully he can be, they are thus far individuated.

But surely nobody is particularly interested in this highly subjective finesse unless he is a psychologist, or somebody fed up with his unconsciousness.

Hoping you enjoy always good health I remain, with kind regards to Christiana,

Yours cordially,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 322-325.

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