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Carl Jung: The origin of his concept of the Archetype

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Letters Volume II

To Joseph F. Rychlak

Dear Mr. Rychlak, 27 April 1959

The philosophical influence that has prevailed in my education dates from Plato, Kant, Schopenhauer, Ed.v.Hartmann and Nietzsche.

These names at least characterize my main studies in philosophy.

Aristotle’s point of view had never particularly appealed to me; nor Hegel, who in my very incompetent opinion is not even a proper philosopher but a misfired psychologist.

His impossible language, which he shares with his blood-brother Heidegger, denotes that his philosophy is a highly rationalized and lavishly decorated confession of his unconscious.

The fact that I use the term “dialectical procedure” or something of this sort exposes me to the misunderstanding th at I envisage an intellectual procedure, which is not the case, but in truth a practical method of dealing with the very concrete propositions the unconscious presents us with.

This is a very important chapter of psychotherapy.

Since neurosis consists in a dissociation of personality, one is always confronted with an opposite or a vis-a-vis you have to reckon with; a fact which is unknown only to people who know of nothing else but the contents of their consciousness.

Moreover the science of all moving as well as living bodies is based upon the concept of energy.

Energy itself is a tension between opposites.

Our psychology is no exception to the principle that embraces about the whole of natural science.

In the intellectual world in which I grew up, Hegelian thought played no role at all; on the contrary, it was Kant and his epistemology on the one hand, and on the other straight materialism, which I never shared, knowing too much about its ridiculous mythology.

Hegel’s dialectics, I can safely say, had no influence at all, as far as I know myself.

The German term “Auseinanders etzung” was used by me in its colloquial sense.

Being an empiricist and not a philosophical thinker, the terms I chose have their real source in experience; thus when I speak of “Auseinandersetzung” it could be just as well the discussion between Mr. A. and his wife.

Another common misunderstanding is that I derive my idea of “archetypes” from Philo or Dionysius Areopagita, or St. Augustine.

It is based solely upon empirical data, viz . upon the astonishing fact that products of the unconscious in modern individuals can almost literally coincide with symbols occurring in all peoples and all times, beyond the possibility of tradition or migration, for which I have given numerous proofs.

I have never studied Hegel properly, that means his original works.

There is no possibility of inferring a direct dependence, but, as I said above, Hegel confesses the main trends of the unconscious and can be called “unpsychologue rate.”

There is, of course, a remarkable coincidence between certain tenets of Hegelian philosophy and my findings concerning the collective nconscious.

Hoping that I have answered your question satisfactorily,

I remain,

Yours faithfully,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 500-502