Symbolic Life

In this ninth volume of the “Psychologische Abhandlungen” I have put together a number of works which for the most part grew out of Eranos lectures.

Some have been revised, some augmented, and some completely reworked.

The essay on “The Philosophical Tree” is new, although I have dealt with this theme earlier in a sketchy way.

The central theme of this book is the archetype, the nature and significance of which are described and elucidated from various angles : history, psychology both practical and theoretical, case material.

In spite of the fact that this theme has often been discussed by me as well as by other authors, such as Heinrich Zimmer, Karl Kerenyi, Erich Neumann, Mircea Eliade, etc., it has proved to be both inexhaustible and particularly difficult to comprehend, if one may give credence to criticisms vitiated by prejudice and misunderstanding.

One is left with the suspicion that the psychological standpoint and its consequences are felt in many quarters to be disagreeable and for this reason are not permitted a hearing.

The simplistic approach is instantly assured of the applause of the public because it pretends to make the answering of difficult questions superfluous, but well-founded observations that cast doubt on things which appear simple and settled arouse displeasure.

The theory of archetypes seems to come into this category.

For some it is self-evident and a welcome aid in understanding symbol-formation, individual as well as historical and collective.

For others it seems to epitomize an annoying aberration that has to be extirpated by all possible means, however ridiculous.

Although it is easy to demonstrate the existence and efficacy of the archetypes, their phenomenology leads to really difficult questions of which I have given a few samples in this book.

For the present there is still no possibility of simplification and of building highways “that fools may not err.” ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Page 529