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Jung and Ethics

I do not enjoy philosophical arguments that amuse by their own complications. ~Carl Jung, CW 11,  Para 68

I can hardly draw a veil over the fact that we psychotherapists ought really to be philosophers or philosophic doctors – or rather that we already are so, though we are unwilling to admit it because of the glaring contrast between our work and what passes for philosophy in the universities. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 181

(a) The chief causes of a neurosis are conflicts of conscience and difficult moral problems that require an answer. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Para 1408.

(b) He who does not possess this moral function, this loyalty to himself, will never get rid of his neurosis […] Neither the doctor nor the patient, therefore, should let himself slip into the belief that analysis by itself is sufficient to remove a neurosis. ~Carl Jung, CW 7, Para 497

Nature is an incomparable guide if you know how to follow her. She is like the needle of the compass pointing to the North, which is most useful when you have a good man-made ship and when you know how to navigate […] The unconscious is useless without the human mind. It always seeks its collective purposes and never your individual destiny. Your destiny is the result of the collaboration between the conscious and the unconscious. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. I, Page 283

Kant is my philosopher!” ~Carl Jung, The Making of Modern Psychology, Page 168

The Self, is an a priori, existent out of which the ego evolves. It is, so to speak, an unconscious prefiguration of the ego […] [But] if man were merely a creature that came into being as a result of something already existing unconsciously, he would have no freedom and there would be no point in consciousness. Psychology must reckon with the fact that despite the causal nexus man does enjoy a feeling of freedom, which is identical with autonomy of consciousness […]. An absolutely preformed consciousness and a totally dependent ego would be a pointless farce, since everything would proceed just as well or even better unconsciously. The existence of ego consciousness has meaning only if it is free and autonomous. By stating these facts we have, it is true, established an antinomy, but we have at the same time given a picture of things as they are. There are temporal, local, and individual differences in the degree of dependence and freedom. In reality both are always present: the supremacy of the self and the hybris of consciousness. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para  49

The philosophical discussion is a task which psychotherapy necessarily sets itself, though not every patient will come down to basic principles. The question of the measuring rod with which to measure, of the ethical criteria which are to determine our actions, must be answered somehow, for the patient may quite possibly expect us to account for our judgments and decisions. Not all patients allow themselves to be condemned to infantile inferiority because of our refusal to render such an account, quite apart from the fact that a therapeutic blunder of this kind would be sawing off the branch on which we sit. In other words the art of psychotherapy requires that the therapist be in possession of avowable, credible, and defensible convictions which have proved their viability either by having resolved any neurotic dissociations of his own or by preventing them from arising. A therapist with a neurosis is a contradiction in terms. One cannot help any patient advance further than one has advanced oneself. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 179

Because I know that, despite all rational safeguards, the patient does attempt to assimilate the analyst’s personality, I have laid it down as a requirement […] that the psychoanalyst should first submit himself to the analytical process, as his personality is one of the main factors in the cure. Patients read the analyst’s character intuitively, and they should find in him a man with failings, admittedly, but also a man who strives at every point to fulfil his human duties in the fullest sense. Many times I have had the opportunity of seeing that the analyst is successful with his treatment just so far as he has succeeded in his own moral development. ~Carl Jung, CW 4, 586-87

“Good advice” is often a doubtful remedy, but generally not dangerous because it has so little effect. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Para 358

Having learnt by long and often painful experience the relative ineffectiveness of trying to inculcate moral precepts, he [the therapist] has to abandon all admonitions and exhortations that begin with “ought” and “must” ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Para  1408)

Whenever a sense of moral inferiority appears, it indicates not only a need to assimilate an unconscious component, but also the possibility of such assimilation. ~Carl Jung, CW 7, Para 218

Kant rightly requires the individual and society to advance from an ‘ethic of action’ to an ‘ethic of conviction’. But to see into the ultimate depths of the conviction behind the action is possible only to God. ~Jung  CW 10,  Para 871

The irrepressible demand to do what we regard as good, and refrain from doing what we regard as morally evil. It gives us a feeling of pleasure to act in accordance with the requirements of the categorical imperative, just as the gratification of any instinct brings with it a certain quantity of pleasure. ~Carl Jung, Zofingia Lectures, Page 171

If one is sufficiently conscientious the conflict is endured to the end, and a creative solution emerges which is produced by the constellated archetype and possesses that compelling authority not unjustly characterized as the voice of God. The nature of the solution is in accord with the deepest foundations of the personality as well as with its wholeness; it embraces conscious [sic] and unconscious and therefore transcends the ego. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para  858

One comforts oneself with the excuse that it was done in a good cause and was therefore moral. But anyone who has insight will know that on the one hand he [the doctor who lied to a patient] was too cowardly to precipitate a catastrophe, and on the other hand that he has lied shamelessly. He has done evil but at the same time good. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Para 1417

the ethical problems that cannot be solved in the light of collective morality [Jung’s conformist conception of morality] or the “old ethic” are [irreducible, ontological] conflicts of duty, otherwise they would not be ethical ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Para 1414

It would be too ambitious a task to give you a detailed account of the influence of Nietzsche’s thoughts on my own development. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 123

The play and counterplay between personalities No. 1 and No. 2, which has run through my whole life, has nothing to do with a “split” or dissociation in the ordinary medical sense. On the contrary, it is played out in every individual. ~Carl Jung, Jung, MDR, Page 45

amount of unconscious. […] But it must be clear, if the unconscious flows in with our action and with our behaviour, that we assume responsibility. Otherwise it would not be expressed, but would simply be an event that occurred, and it would occur just as well to fishes or plants. It would have no merit; it only becomes ethical inasmuch as we know. If you know that a certain amount of unconsciousness, which means a certain amount of risk, comes in, and you stand for it, you assume responsibility: insofar is your action virtuous or ethical. ~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminar Page 1052-1053.

[w]hen you say you submit to the strength of God [it] sounds like something that is in a way very nice. You have a form, you can even justify yourself apparently, particularly when that strength of God coincides with what is said in books, or with what the priests say, or public opinion says. For instance, if you raise a fund for certain charitable purposes and […] call it the will of God and say you are obeying his strength, everybody will pat you on the back and call it nice and virtuous […] Hosea could say it was the command of the Lord [to marry the whore] and there was no gainsaying it. But where are you if you say it is the command of the self? You are an egotist, you are excusing yourself. What is the self? It is yourself and there is no excuse whatever. So you are absolutely in the frying pan. That is what you come to when you say God is dead: you have no excuse any longer. But there we are – we have lost every authority for what we do. ~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminars, Page 1054.

Life demands for its completion and fulfilment a balance between joy and sorrow […] happiness is itself poisoned if the measure of suffering has not been fulfilled. Behind a neurosis there is so often concealed all the natural and necessary suffering the patient has been unwilling to bear. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 185

Nietzsche, in his identity with Zarathustra, reviles the collective man without realizing that he is a collective man himself, so he is really reviling himself […] Unfortunately enough, he has certain thoughts which transcend the lower regions, but that does not mean that he is identical with his high thoughts. In that respect he is exactly like a tenor who thinks he is identical with his high notes; but the tenor is a very ordinary man, and the more he identifies with his beautiful high notes, the lower his character will be, if it is only by way of compensation. ~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Page 1421-22.

To unlearn all distinctions, save that concerning direction, is part of your salvation. ~CarlJung, Red Book, Page 360.

We can forgive the early Christian when he speaks of the love for the neighbor, because he was quite aware that he did not hate himself. He was taught that he loved himself and he knew it very well. He was aware of the primitive egotism and therefore he was aware of the fact that it was a merit to love the neighbor; he made a merit of it in order to compensate his absolutely naïve selfishness, the naïve love for himself. Then later on, it was discovered what a cunning loophole that love for the neighbor could be; when things are getting hot for yourself, disagreeable, then you simply love the neighbor and forget all about yourself. ~Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Page 700

If those you love are far away, you have the greatest chance of being alone with yourself in the meantime; you have an incomparable opportunity to become acquainted with yourself and then you make discoveries. ~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Page 702.

Even on the highest peak we shall never be “beyond good and evil”, and the more we experience of their inextricable entanglement the more uncertain and confused will our moral judgment be. In this conflict, it will not help in the least to throw the moral criterion in the rubbish heap and to set up new tables after known patterns; for, as in the past, so in the future the wrong we have done, thought or intended will wreak its vengeance on our souls, no matter whether we turn the world upside down or not. Our knowledge of good and evil has dwindled with our mounting knowledge and experience, and will dwindle still more in the future, without our being able to escape the demands of ethics. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 267

We suspect and understand that growth needs both [good and evil], and hence we keep good and evil close together. Because we know that too far into the good means the same as too far into evil, we keep them both together. ~Carl Jung, Red Book, Page 406.

Of course one would refrain from using the word good there because it has acquired a particular quality in the history of morality; you know very well that the vital thing is not just good as we understand that word [Jung presumably means: good as kind, respectful, generous]. But you cannot deny it is vital […] Perhaps you would say that to decide in such and such a way would be good and moral, but then you see that it is not vital to decide in that way; so a more vital solution should be sought, allowing life to be lived […] The only question is: “Is it vital? Does it help life?” ~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Page 569.

We have plenty of moral ideas which impoverish life, and we think it is even good to do so, but then we discover that we do it not for any moral reasons but out of sheer cowardice – just cowardice and pretext; we hide our cowardice behind moral laws. ~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Page  111

These life-lines […] are never general principles or universally accepted ideals, but points of view and attitudes that have a provisional value […] [An individual must] take the way of the individual life-line he has recognized as his own, and continue along it until such time as an unmistakable reaction from the unconscious tells him he is on the wrong track. ~Carl Jung, CW 7, Para 497

The way, or whatever it might be, on which people go, is our way, the right way. There are no paved ways into the future. We say that it is this way, and it is. We build roads by going on. Our life is the truth that we seek. Only my life is the truth, the truth above all. We create the truth by living it. ~Carl Jung, Red Book, Page  351.

With Nietzsche man stands alone, as he himself did, neurotic, financially dependent, godless and worldless. This is no ideal for a real man who has a family to support and taxes to pay ~Carl Jung, CW 7, Para 397

The Pauline overcoming of the law falls only to the man who knows how to put his soul in the place of conscience. ~Carl Jung, CW 7, Para 401.

[i]n most people the cause of the division is that the conscious mind wants to hang on to its moral ideal, while the unconscious strives after its – in the contemporary sense – unmoral ideal – which the conscious mind tries to deny. Men of this type want to be more respectable than they really are. ~Carl Jung, CW 17, Para 18.

[t]he conflict can also easily be the other way about: there are men who are to all appearances very disreputable and do not put the least restraint upon themselves. This is at bottom only a pose of wickedness, for in the background they have their moral side which has fallen into the unconscious just as surely as the immoral side in the case of the moral man. ~Carl Jung, CW 17, Para 18.

the irrepressible demand to do what we regard as good, and refrain from doing what we regard as morally evil. It gives us a feeling of pleasure to act in accordance with the requirements of the categorical imperative, just as the gratification of any instinct brings with it a certain quantity of pleasure ~Carl Jung, Zofingia Lectures, Page 171.

The Freudian theory of repression certainly does seem to say that there are, as it were, only hypermoral people who repress their unmoral, instinctive drives. Accordingly the unmoral man who lives a life of unrestrained instinct, should be immune to neurosis. This is obviously not the case, as experience shows. Such a man can be just as neurotic as any other. If we analyse him we simply find that his morality is repressed (Verdrangung). The neurotic immoralist presents, in Nietzsche`s striking phrase, the picture of the “pale felon” who does not live up to his acts. ~Carl Jung, CW 7, Para 29.

There are vast masses of the population who, despite their notorious unconsciousness, never get anywhere near a neurosis. The few who are smitten by such a fate are really persons of the “higher” type who, for one reason or another, have remained too long on a primitive level [of consciousness]. Their nature does not in the long run tolerate persistence in what is for them an unnatural torpor. ~Carl Jung, CW 7, Para 291

To have an attitude means to be ready for something definite, even though this something is unconscious; for having an attitude is synonymous with an a priori orientation to a definite thing, no matter whether this be represented in consciousness or not. The state of readiness, which I conceive attitude to be, consists in the presence of a certain subjective constellation […] Whether the point of reference is conscious or unconscious does not affect the selectivity of the attitude, since the selection is implicit in the attitude and takes place automatically. It is useful, however, to distinguish between the two, because the presence of two attitudes is extremely frequent, one conscious and the other unconscious. This means that consciousness has a constellation of contents different from that of the unconscious, a duality particularly evident in neurosis. ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 687

Conventional morality is exactly like classical physics: a statistical truth, a statistical wisdom. The modern physicist knows that causality is a statistical truth, but in practice he will always ask what law is valid in that particular case. So it is in the realm of morality. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 871.

You are tempting me to lay down a rule. But I would rather advise: do the one thing or do the other according to circumstances, and in your therapeutic work do not act on any a priori, but in each case listen to what the concrete situation demands […] For instance, a patient is still so unconscious that you simply cannot take up an attitude towards his problems. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 879

Something must grow from inside her. Another patient has reached a certain level of consciousness and expects orientation from you. It would then be a great mistake not to make your attitude clear. The right thing must be said at the right time and in the right place. (Jung, CW 10, Para 880

It is of the greatest importance for the young person, who is still unadapted and has yet achieved nothing, to shape his conscious ego […] He must feel himself a man of will, and may safely depreciate everything else in him and deem it subject to his will, for without this illusion he could not succeed in adapting himself socially. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 109.

It is obviously not enough for [the patient] to know how his illness arose and whence it came, for we seldom get rid an evil merely by understanding its causes. Nor should it be forgotten that the crooked paths of a neurosis lead to as many obstinate habits, and that for all our insight these do not disappear until replaced by other habits. But habits are won only by exercise, and appropriate education is the sole means to this end. The patient can only be drawn out of himself into other paths, which is the true meaning of “education”, and this can only be achieved by an educative will. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 152

He who does not possess this moral function, this loyalty to himself, will never get rid of his neurosis […] Neither the doctor nor the patient, therefore, should let himself slip into the belief that analysis by itself is sufficient to remove a neurosis. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 497.

If we call everything that God does or allows “good” then evil is “good” too, and “good” becomes meaningless. ~Carl Jung, CW 9ii, Para 423

Obviously evil can be represented as a diminution of good, but with this kind of logic one could just as well say: The temperature of the Arctic winter, which freezes our noses and ears, is relatively speaking only a little below the heat prevailing at the equator […] The privatio boni argument remains a euphemistic petitio principii no matter whether evil is regarded as a lesser good or as an effect of the finiteness and limitedness of created things. ~Carl Jung, CW 9ii, Para 94

good and evil are […] principles. The word “principle” comes from “prius”, that which is “first” or “in the beginning” […] Good and evil are principles of our ethical judgement, but, reduced to their ontological roots, they are “beginnings”, aspects of God, names for God. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 864

The false conclusion [of the privatio boni] argument necessarily follows the premise “Deus = Summum Bonum”, since it is unthinkable that the perfect good could ever have created evil. It merely created the good and the less good […] Just as we freeze miserably despite a temperature of 2300 above absolute zero […]. It is probably from this tendency to deny any reality to evil that we get the axiom “Omne bonum a Deo, omne malum ab homine”. This is a contradiction of the truth that he who created the heat is also responsible for the cold (“the goodness of the less good”). […] One could hardly call the things that have happened, and still happen, in the concentration camps of the dictator states an “accidental lack of perfection” – it would sound like mockery. ~Carl Jung, CW 9ii, Para 144

The anima is the great entangler and the Maya who involves [us] in good and evil. ~Marie von Franz, Shadow in Fairy Tales, Page 129

[Manichaeism] forced the Church to take an important step: the formulation of the doctrine of the privatio boni, by means of which she established the identity of “good” and “being.” […] one half of the polarity, till then essentially metaphysical, was reduced to a psychic factor, which meant that the devil had lost his game if he could not pick on some moral weakness in man […] As interpreted by dogma, therefore, good is still wholly projected but evil only partly so, since the passions of men are its main source. ~Carl Jung, CW 14, Para 86

we are true[…] to [our] innermost nature and vocation […] [we] alone and the Omniscient [see] the actual situation as it were from inside, whereas the judges and condemners see it only from outside. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 869

As a therapist I cannot, in any given case, deal with the problem of good and evil philosophically but can only approach it empirically. But because I take an empirical attitude it does not mean that I relativize good and evil as such. I see very clearly: this is evil, but the paradox is just that for this particular person in this particular situation at this particular stage of development it may be good. Contrariwise, good at the wrong moment in the wrong place may be the worst thing possible. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 866

The guilty man is eminently suitable and is therefore chosen to become the vessel for the continuing incarnation [by which Jung means individuation], not the guiltless one who holds aloof from the world and refuses to pay his tribute to life, for in him the dark God [by which Jung means the negative polarity of the Self which we call ‘evil’] would find no room. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 746

Christ’s […] sacrificial death was a fate chosen by Yahweh as a reparation for the wrong done to Job on the one hand, and on the other hand as a fillip to the spiritual and moral development of man. There can be no doubt that man’s importance is enormously enhanced if God himself deigns to become one. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 650

the indispensible prerequisite for synthesis, for unless the opposites are constellated and brought to consciousness they can never be united. Freud halted the process at the reduction of the inferior half of the personality and tended to overlook the daemonic dangerousness of the dark side, which by no means consists only of harmless infantilism. Man is neither so reasonable nor so good that he can cope eo ipso with evil.  ~Carl Jung, CW 14, Para 346

.[T]he shadow is merely something inferior, primitive, unadapted, and awkward; not wholly bad. It even contains childish or primitive qualities which would in a way vitalise and embellish human existence. ~Carl Jung, CW 11,Para 134

Everyone carries a Shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected, and is liable to burst forth suddenly in a moment of unawareness. At all events, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 31,

Everything suggestive of illness should be avoided [when speaking with patients] […] Illness too is a solution of sorts, a way of disposing of life’s problems: ‘I am ill, now the doctor must help!” […] They are disappointed when I treat them as normal people and myself act as a normal man. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 881

If it comes to a neurosis, we invariably have to deal with a considerably intensified shadow. And if such a person wants to be cured it is necessary to find a way in which his conscious personality and his shadow can live together. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 131

People speak sometimes of “overcoming” evil. But have we the power to overcome it? […] [I]t is often impossible to speak of overcoming evil, because at such times we are in a “closed” situation, in an aporia, where whatever we choose is not good […] Often we cannot say in such situations how the problem of good and evil will work out. We have to put our trust in the higher powers. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 883

Suffering, whether it be Christ’s passion or the suffering of the world, remains the same as before. Stupidity, sin, sickness, old age, and death continue to form the dark foil that sets off the joyful splendour of life. ~Carl Jung, CW 9ii, Para 84

Each individual has his own ethical level and form of reaction. There are, for example, thick-skinned people who can afford a lot of what we would call sins. Other people cannot afford anything; as soon as they sidestep a bit from their own inner law, they get the most awful dreams and inner reactions […] People in analysis sometimes do the most incredible things, and you think that now it is possible to catch them on their shadow. But naturally, as an analyst, one has to wait until they themselves have a dream. Then they have no dream! The unconscious has pardoned them. ~Marie-Louise von Franz, Shadow in Fairy Tales, Page 144