In a previous post, I am making a parallel between Dawkins and Freud in that they only envisage, and reject, an external creator god as ontologically significant. So they would be « naive » in the sense of simple, direct, uncomplicated. The contrasting term would be « dialectical » atheists, comparing Jung to Zizek, who builds on Freud’s analyses but finds a positive ontological efficacity, within the Symbolic, for « God ».

Both Zizek and Jung accept the Kantian prohibition of knowledge of the in itself, and so they displace the question of ontology to within the symbolic order. In both cases their views are conceptually unclear, often ambiguous, and this ambiguity has been seized on by believers.

The underlying question that arises from reading their work is « what is the role of a symbolic Christianity today ». My hypothesis is that Jung does not contest Nietzsche’s « death of God ». Both Jung and Nietzsche affirm that ontologically it is no longer possible to believe in an external creator god giver and guarantor of a moral law, and that sociologically the God-idea and the God-image have lost most of their potency.

Jung validates all this prior to turning to his psyche in quest of a rebirth of imagination (general programme, which I think is still valuable) and of a rebirth of the God-image (specific programme, which I think is obsolete).

A further ingredient in this mix is the status of the speculative concept, to which Zizek accords a high value, but which Jung depreciates as providing merely a « language » to translate his experiences.

So I am arguing for the existence of a further phase after the death of God, namely the death of the rebirth of God in the God-image.

Another way of putting this is that both Freud and Zizek assign no cognitive value to religion, but that Zizek sees a noetic value, i.e. for Zizek religion is a valuable way of understanding the world (with quasi-ontological value as well).

Jung dances on the lines of the cognitive/noetic frontier in an ambiguous way, but given his Nietzschean-Jamesian lineage we are permitted to isolate out the noetic line and to condemn the cognitive line as a nostalgic deviation or regression.

This leads us to the question of the necessary persistence of and recourse to Christian vocabulary and concepts. Those who have remained « standard » Jungians seem to glory in this religionising perspective, and feel that this regressive terminology does not contradict their psychological and philosophical sophistication.

On the other hand, those who follow the Hillman-Giegerich line of deconstructing Jung think that this terminology must go, and that the experiences that it seeks to describe are mutating into something different. In particular, they question the relevance of the notion of « individuation » as classically understood, and hypothesise that other modes of subjectivation may be emerging, that are just as valid and authentic as classical Jungian individuation.

In my second post on this subject I mention Hubert Dreyfus, who is faithful to a late Heideggerian style of thought. His courses on « from gods to God and back » and his book (with Sean Kelly) ALL THINGS SHINING can be used to situate the Heidegger lineage on the same axis. Hillman actually attended some lectures by Heidegger, and I think that he is implicitly using late Heideggerian inspirations (without the jargon) to deconstruct Jungian type ideas.

Note: I am grateful for a conversation with Eric Sapp which helped me to clarify my ideas.

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  1. dmf dit :

    If only Jung had been able to break out of his being so taken with Freud to see his research into feeling-toned complexes via William James on habits and all !
    Hillman wasn’t so taken by Heidegger, more of a Corbin person, but David L. Miller and Robert Avens (see The New Gnosis Heidegger, Hillman, and Angels) certainly read them into each other and not a little Tillich as well which might fit into yer project, also how Caputo comes to it first by demythologizing Heidegger then via later Derrida to a « weak » theology echoes of Vattimo but in the name of Tillich (“faith is the state of being ultimately concerned.”), Bert was certainly in this general trend but all too taken with some sense of shininess being akin to Given, in that sense too Heideggerian, too anti-pragmatism/mere-anthropology, I know we tried to get Sean to see some of the limits (as well as the untapped potentials) of their approach but probably too much to ask of a chosen son/disciple. Alva gave a sort of Jamesian twist to phenomenology in his varieties of presence book that fits with much of Bert’s work.
    Don’t have a key to unlock this but the preview will give a sense of the Aven’s project:


  2. dmf dit :

    Hillman responds to metaphysical concerns

    Aimé par 1 personne

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