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Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious

Indications of the concept of a collective psyche are to be found in Leibniz’s theory of “petites perceptions,” also in Kant’s anthropology.

In Schelling the “eternally unconscious” is the absolute ground of consciousness.

Despite different terminology Hegel’s view is similar.

  1. G. Carus was the first to base a developed philosophical system on the concept of the unconscious.

Related features may be found in Schopenhauer.

Eduard von Hartmann exalted the unconscious to the concept of an absolute, universal Spirit.

The scientific investigation of the psychological unconscious began with the discovery of hypnotism and was continued via the Salpetriere school in the works of Janet and Flournoy.

Independently of this, it was the Breuer-Freud discovery of the aetiology of neurosis that led to Freud’s sexual theory of the unconscious.

Independent, again, of the Freudian school was the discovery of the so-called “complexes” and “autonomous contents” of the unconscious by the author.

Whereas for Freud the unconscious is essentially a function of consciousness, the author holds the unconscious to be an independent psychic function prior to consciousness and opposed to it.

According to this view the unconscious may be divided into a personal and a collective unconscious.

The latter is a psychic propensity to a regular functioning, independent of time and race.

Its products may be compared with “mythological motifs.”

Despite the autochthonous origin of the former, the two are analogous in principle, which may be taken as an indication of their conforming to psychological law.

In the further course of the lecture the author, with the help of a special department of symbology, the so-called mandala symbolism, demonstrated the parallelism between the symbol of the circle, as produced by educated patients undergoing treatment, and the ritual mandalas of lamaism and kundalini yoga, as well as the parallels with the views of the Tantrists, of classical Chinese philosophy, and Chinese yoga.

Further parallels are children’s drawings, the prehistoric mandalas of Rhodesia, the sand-paintings from the healing ceremonies (yaibichy dances) of the Navaho (Arizona), the visions of Hildegard of Bingen from the Codex Lucca3 (12th to 13th cent.), and the eschatological views of Jacob Boehme.

The modern pictorial material was derived from people who produced it spontaneously and were not in any way influenced. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 515-516