JUNG WAS AN ATHEIST (5): metaphysical vs psychological

My argument so far is confirmed by a letter Jung wrote on the subject of religious knowledge in June 1957, just two years before his BBC interview of 1959. This letter confirms my analysis of Jung’s atheism in terms of his Kantian critique of metaphysical assumptions and posits, and of his treatment of transcendence as that which goes beyond consciousness.

In particular Jung’s remark

« My human limitation does not permit me to assert that I know God, hence I cannot but regard all assertions about God as relative because subjectively conditioned »

gives essential context to his famous « I know » in the BBC interview only 2 years later. The letter makes clear Jung’s epistemological position about metaphysical knowledge: it is impossible. The BBC declaration concerns his experience.

My argument is that Jung is metaphysically atheist, but psychologically gnostic. People tend to omit the qualifying adverb and so to hypostatize Jung’s statements.

Jung , in the letter to Bernhard Lang, says that no one can lay claim to possession of a special organ of perception nor to any transcendent knowledge that would be unavailable to others. He clearly states that he cannot assert that he knows God.

This seems to leave Jung in the position of agnosticism, but an agnostic position in which the metaphysical is neither experientially accessible nor theoretically denotable is indistinguishable from atheism. The metaphysical posit drops out as irrelevant.

We cannot escape this conclusion by claiming that while the noetic Jung, as expressed in his books and letters, is an atheist the empirical Jung, as judged by how he actually lived his life, was a believer.

How does a post-metaphysical psychological realist live his life? He lives it by acting and writing as Jung did, with great openness to experience and with great firmness in rejecting metaphysical claims.

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