In this review I am in the process of subtracting Peter Kingsley’s dogmatic elements and of immanentising him (no doubt against his grain).
A first line of entry into examining Kingsley’s attempt to inherit Jung is epistemological. Jung was very clear on this point, the importance of epistemology, as marking the major disparity between his own approach and that of Freud :
« when he had thought something, then it was settled, while I was doubting all along the line. It was impossible to discuss something really à fond…He had no philosophical education…I was studying Kant, I was steeped in it, and that was far from Freud ».
(Quoted from this interview).
I think that Peter Kingsley sees Jung’s life and work through pre-Kantian spectacles and so fails to inherit or illuminate his thought correctly. Similar looking experiences can be very different if we consider the epistemological mode as part of the experience.
Transposing the experience of his chosen inspiring figures into his own mode of thought Kingsley is led to a certain number of epistemological slippages that serve to validate his affirmations beyond what his experience actually warrants.
1) Kingsley slides from thinkers (like Corbin) being true to their propositions being True.
2) Kingsley slides from what philosophers (like Empedocles and Parmenides) say they are doing to endorsing that they are in fact doing that.
3) He slides from what philosophers (like Empedocles) say to what Kingsley himself says.
This slippage allows a conflation of the subject of the act of enunciation and the subject of the enunciated content.
This conflation of subjects creates the appearance of presenting an unmediated content, that is somehow self-enunciating and so self-validating (if you conflate yourself with the « right » subjects). The unmediated content is presented as raw experience. This form of naive empiricism merges with solipsism, and ultimately with a solipsism of the present moment (as Bertrand Russell pointed out).
Dialogue in this case is not necessary, and certainly not critical discussion. The main goal is to get the « right » experiences and then use them to interpret everything else. Insofar as Kingsley is true to his experiences he is an inspiring talker and stimulating thinker. He is not the vehicle of a pure and undiluted Truth.
Money is an unspoken pre-condition for this search for the right experience. Few people today can afford to lie down in a dark and quiet place for days on end, to « incubate » this experience. Jung emphasises that his « Red Book » experiences came to him while he was working as an analyst and supporting a family. Kantian critique is essential under these circumstances.
Have you read “healing fiction”? By Hillman.
Yes, it’s quite good.
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