Jung's Concept of the Unconscious
*****At first the concept of the unconscious was limited to denoting the state of repressed or forgotten contents...For Freud, accordingly, the unconscious is of an exclusively personal nature, although he was aware of its archaic and mythological thought-forms.
A more or less superficial layer of the unconscious is undoubtedly personal. I call it the "personal unconscious." But this personal unconscious rests upon a deeper layer, which does not derive from personal experience and is not a personal acquisition but is inborn. This deeper layer I call the "collective unconscious." I have chosen the term "collective" because this part of the unconscious is not individual but universal; in contrast to the personal psyche it has contents and modes of behavior that are more or less the same everywhere and in all individuals. It is, in other words, identical in all men and thus constitutes a common psychic substrate of a suprapersonal nature which is present in every one of us.*****
This section should be readily intelligible to all but neophyte students of Ancient Wisdom. To those of us who have followed the Tree of Life study that J.E. led us in, there seems to be a sound grounding in the idea that all life is a manifestation of One Thing. The basic idea that there are elements of our lives which are common to us all should be no great leap to members of this list.
Bruce - excellent beginning and you kept it short so it can be digested
easily...the many rivulets of the human unconscious stream into the ocean
of the universal unconscious, as Ann Davies states, each of us is but a bay or inlet into which the great
unconsciousness flows in and out with all its attendant flotsam and jetsam....
this is a good subject to discuss as the terms unconscious and subconscious
are thrown around and we need a better understanding
of how the terms translate from one person such as Case to another
such as Jung, etc.
Very interesting thread, interesting point of discussion, Bruce. The Great Sea
of unconsciousness is certainly the treasury of the universal
archetypal images shared by all mankind. These archetypes are universal and
wash into our individual inlets of personality because they exist in that
Sea of images.
I think the confusion arises because Ann and Paul adopted the Freudian term
"subconscious" to apply to what seems to me to fit much more closely with
the Jungian term "unconscious". I suspect this usage arose because in the
earlier decades of this century Freud was much better know in this country
than was Jung and the Freudian terms much more in use. I am willing to be
corrected about this, but remember several discussions of these terms in a
class on Transpersonal techniques I took in about 1979. The class
incorporated BOTA teachings and was my introduction to BOTA. We decided to
use the terms 'subconscious' and 'unconscious' interchangeably as applied to
the BOTA teachings.
Perhaps what Jung was seeing was a part of the spectrum of consciousness
that most Humans can perceive, though I'm not sure that all Humans can
perceive the same bands of 'wavelengths'.
Jung's model seems to follow the "many rivulets that stream into the ocean"
paradigm that you mention, but I wonder if that is accurate (both the
paradigm, and that Jung's model fits it). Perhaps another model might
have to do with resonant frequencies in a universal symphony, each of us
hearing a tiny fraction of the whole. Sort of like the individual taste-buds on
the tongue, the individual rods and cones on the retina, or the individual nerve
endings in the skin. Together we are aware of a much vaster consciousness,
though individually we are aware of only our little bit.
The expansion of consciousness, that is often mentioned, might just be the
experiencing of a wider band of the same One consciousness. Hmm... do go on, Bruce.
Navigating around the distinctive jargon of Freud on the one hand, and Jung
on the other, I will state, as a semantic definition, that I use the term
"unconscious" (as a noun) to mean subconsciousness and superconsciousness
taken together -- that is, the whole of the nonmaterial aspect of a person
except for the Ruach. "Collective Unconscious," then, has two components, a
Collective Superconsciousness -- which is exactly what I think you are
describing -- and a Collective Subconsciousness. I can identify each as
distinctly existing. Sometimes the lines between them blurs quite
significantly, but I can give at least one distinct example of a
differentiation: There are vast numbers of "collective patterns" at the
human species level, and many more at the national or cultural level, that
are universally part of our psyches yet cannot be regarded as "archetypal"
in nature. They may be consequences or the existence of archetypal
elements, but they are not, themselves, archetypal. I also think (but on this I may be
wrong) that the Collective SUB-consciousness has a greater tendency to be
founded in common organicity (perhaps down to the DNA molecular level),
whereas I am not convinced that Collective SUPERconscious elements require
specific organicity except very broadly, as a basis of manifestation.
A collective subconscious AND a collective superconscious? Hmmm -- let me chew on that for a while. Could be. As you note, further work in this area has been done since Freud & Jung's time, so their original formulations, while worth studying, are not the be-all-and-end-all on the subject. As you will see in further posts, Jung describes something which is similar to what you are calling the collective superconscious. He saw it as a part of the collective unconscious - but then, Case (and others?) teach that superconscious comes to us via subconsciousness, so how about that?
As to your remarks re: those elements which are common or universal but not archetypal, Jung would agree -- as we will see shortly.
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