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Answer to Job 
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Post Re: Answer to Job
@606
I admit to a lot of frustration with Jung puttering around in the gardens of mythology, with mandalas and whatnot. I want him to get to my questions and address my issues. So I am trying to back off and just listen to what he is saying.

The best I can do for rendering an account of his mythological analysis (God chose to become man, under the influence of wisdom, and then continues the incarnational process through the intervention of the Holy Spirit within people), is that he is simultaneously working with God as a manifestation of the human collective unconscious and with God as a fictional character in the mythology of the Jewish people.

There is of course no reason the two cannot be two aspects of the same process. But he moves between them rather too easily, tracing processes within one of these perspectives as an explanation for a claim about the other, for example.

So it gets a little frustrating when he goes into the "light" context of the Son of Man in Ezekiel and Enoch as if it represents an intrusion of wisdom and a humanization of the God of implacable reality, and a preparation in the Weltanschauung for Jesus to come on the scene, and then turns around and declares the upwelling of dark apocalyptic visions by the prophets to be a result of the repression of the dark side. If Jung is working with a single narrative thread in mind, it isn't apparent.

So I am trying to be more open to simultaneous narratives in tension. Jung wants to unpack God's requirement of sacrifice of his perfectly innocent son Jesus as the same dark side that appears in the prophetic calls for destruction (of nearly everything in sight - Judea, Samaria, Ninevah, Babylon, Edom, Aram, Egypt and lots more that don't come to mind at the moment). The vengeful, punitive side of God. But earlier he had the humanization of God as a result of the "power-structure God" reflecting that suffering by the faithful innocent cast His omnipotence in doubt, and put his justice to shame. With wisdom helping God to be more open to the implications of God's choices (i.e. of human narratives about God).

So which is it? Jesus represents God being more involved, more vulnerable, and more willing to suffer? Or Jesus is required to die because power-structure God will accept no taint of contact with sinful humans? Presumably Jung just waves his hands and says, "Both, of course! It's a paradox!" To the extent that both strands of human aspiration are involved, both judgmental insistence on punishing sin and forgiving relation to erring humanity, that's fair enough (though I wish he would come out and say as much.)

But there is an alternate reading in which Holy Spirit relational freedom bursts out of the boundaries of legalistic repression, but is eventually corralled back in by power structures (with their legalistic interpretation of Atonement). While that makes sense of the reassertion of God's dark side, it does not claim that repression was involved when wisdom and direct relational freedom escaped from the boundaries of repression.

I think fundamentally that Jung is trying to have it both ways: God's monstrous side as "Reality", bringing suffering upon the innocent, is a projection of aggression and domination; but at the same time aggression and domination within the "Reality" of the human psyche will inevitably intrude on the arrangements of wisdom. It seems to me Jung is running away from the question of whether the aggression and domination are necessarily incorporated into the worldview of a full consciousness, so that the most serious danger is repression of these inescapable urges, or whether wisdom can literally subdue aggression and domination with sufficient understanding of life.

Not that the question has to be settled in our lifetimes, of course. But I must confess that my own understanding of my faith in Jesus leans decidedly toward the second. I don't dabble in notions of Hell and eternal judgement and Jesus' death being a required sacrifice. I think such notions are swamped by the new message of forgiveness and grace and relationship that the early Christian community believed in.

Am I repressing aggression? I don't think so. Trump's election might argue that I, and the cosmopolitan liberal Christians in general, have done so. But I think it had more of error in it, misinterpreting the feelings of victimization arising among the Dittoheads and Tea Party, than of the willful blindness of dismissing them as "deplorables". But maybe you could make a strong case that our own repressed aggression came out in the moral superiority of calling bigotry and sniffing out every trace of white privilege, and perhaps that kind of divisive approach is what Jung is really getting at with his perception of a dark, punitive side of God.

After all, if you blow up the earth in a nuclear war, it doesn't really matter whether you did it in the name of some worthy goal.



Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:23 am
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Post Re: Answer to Job
Unfortunately I am still responding to comments from page 1 post165517.html#p165517
Harry Marks wrote:
I can see how the "other world" is transcendental and also how it draws both power and inner workings from the unconscious. But I think it is worth asking whether this is transcendental as a matter of description or of seeking right relation. Is it primarily transcendental, (I think that means), by virtue of unknowability (in the formal sense of knowing) or by virtue of importance that we can only sense and not make an externally enforced case for? I rather think that Jung meant the former, but was expressing the latter by his mythopoetic connection.
I prefer to start with a simpler and less mysterious meaning of transcendental, which is just that spirit transcends nature in the sense that concepts transcend things. Spirit includes all language, symbols, concepts, etc, as well as the emotional energy that inspires people in situations of religious worship and fervour.

A great musical concert can be a transcendental experience, lifting the participant out of their material situation into a sublime sense of unity. At the more mundane level of ordinary language, a thing is not its description, and the conceptual description by definition transcends the material object. The traditional idea in philosophy is that the idea does not change, and is therefore eternal or outside time, while the thing constantly changes and is temporal. Whatever is eternal is transcendent.
Harry Marks wrote:
Space, time and causality are instinctive... they make a pretty good example of structures within Kahnemann's "Fast Thinking" or "System One." It's essential nature, remember, is that it seems to operate as part of perception, not of reasoning about perception. I don't think I could accept an equivalent status for Jungian archetypes such as the feminine and the masculine
That is quite a puzzle how space, time and causality as necessary conditions of experience compare to Jung’s analysis of gender archetypes. We have an intuitive instinctive sense of gender, extending to the traditional metaphysical associations that ancient cultures developed such as in the mythology of yin and yang as symbols of female and male type energies in the world. Are these really less fundamental than space and time?
Harry Marks wrote:
"primary grounding beliefs" are things like "my parents will take care of me," or "food won't poison me." And of course those sometimes fail in particular instances. Does that mean they are mistaken? As System 1 perceptual guidance, they are not only true but indispensable. As scientific propositions, they are not sufficiently well specified. Yet they remain at the base of our ability to operate with other people, and people who have been damaged by having primary grounding beliefs betrayed repeatedly by reality are usually very difficult to get along with.
In that sense, Job's faithfulness is no less than a pillar of human society. "No matter what the damned Assyrians do, I am going to face life with a sense of trust."
This theme of the centrality of trust for social cohesion raises an interesting problem for the relation between instinct and reason. Job is in effect saying that despite God’s betrayal of him, he will continue to place his trust in God. On the surface this seems an irrational example of blind faith, but perhaps it displays a deeper rationality, a sense of the values that are needed to hold a society together, a sense that the accidents that happened to him are against the run of expectation.

If we allow cataclysms to produce the attitude of Job’s wife, who tells Job to curse God and die, then our society will inevitably fracture and collapse. But it seems Job takes a deeper strategic view, that faith in an orderly world will help to construct such a world.


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Post Re: Answer to Job
Harry Marks wrote:
the average person has very little interest in or acquaintance with such inexorable fates in material terms. Maybe that accounts for their dismal response to the information about global warming.
This lack of public interest in global material fate illustrates a basic problem of religion. Surely the question of where we are headed should be a central moral concern?

It just goes to show that much religion is a source of comforting fantasy rather than a description of reality or a coherent statement of what we should do about reality. Fate is a topic that should be central to both religion and science. The lack of interest in fate shows the weak state of serious dialogue between science and religion.

Jung puts this well in Answer to Job, saying “the thread by which our fate hangs is wearing thin. Not nature, but the ‘genius of mankind’ has knotted the hangman's noose with which it can execute itself at any moment. This is simply another form of speech for what John called the 'wrath of God.'”

Just as the human mind is the source of evil in the world, so too can the human mind construct a vision of redemption through this fateful recognition that human artifice has constructed the conditions that mythology personifies as wrath.

Jung expands on this idea of fate as the wrath of God by speaking of "the brutal power of the demiurge: "This is I, the creator of all the ungovernable, ruthless forces of Nature, which are not subject to any ethical laws. I, too, am an amoral force of Nature, a purely phenomenal personality that cannot see its own back." ... a kind of Moira or Dike rules over Yahweh."

Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
God can be defined as the absolute fate of the earth, in a way that opens Jung’s problem of how the Christian moral vision of a God of love can be reconciled with the old ideas of fear and wrath. If human civilization departs from a path of compatibility with the natural fate of the earth, then the absolute end result of this departure can be experienced as the wrath of God.
Maybe, but as a rhetorical strategy this suffers from the subjectivity of claims about the wrath of God. I prefer a neutral argument based on evidence, with perhaps a little self-consciously metaphorical comparison to give it pungency and traction.
I disagree that calling God the fate of the earth is subjective. Subjectivity only enters the picture when we postulate an arbitrary, capricious, personal intentional entity as the bearer of wrath.

My approach is rather to try to understand the objective scientific evidence about natural risk, and place that in the moral framework of the capacity of human agency to influence global results. It might seem a simple analogy to say the dinosaurs experienced the asteroid impact 65 million years ago as a form of divine wrath, but the difference from the current risks of catastrophic climate change is that there is nothing the dinosaurs could have done to stop their extinction, whereas the fate of the earth today is entirely in the hands of human choice. So if we choose to destroy the earth, there is a real moral sense that this would be the result of a constructed reality for which humans are to blame, a framework of agency that can legitimately be viewed with the metaphysics of wrath, just as the converse human decision to restore the climate can be mythologised as a path to divine blessing.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Religious traditions justify moral absolutes by reference to an absolute God, while modern relativists deny absolutes for the opposite reason, that there is no God.
Yes, I agree that both sides are deceiving themselves, mainly in an attempt to manipulate others. In the modern world it is much easier to see the deception at the heart of the Absolutist Religious Authoritarian approach. Not so easy to see the nihilism in operation in the contrasting effort to pursue "adjustment" by avoiding moral obligation.
What is easy or hard to see depends on your assumptions. Religious traditionalists do not consider their adherence to evidence-free mythologies as deception, but as revealed truth, and they see manipulation as the protection of social order. Believers consider the modern secular scientific culture with its separation of facts from values as devoid of moral compass, and therefore intrinsically nihilistic.

Jung is remarkably supportive of traditional piety with his analysis of the Virgin Mary, a myth that he sees as embodying a necessary upwelling of the unconscious feminine within a patriarchal culture. It gets back to his main point that religious beliefs cannot be analysed or understood primarily in terms of whether the events described actually happened, but must be first seen in terms of their psychic cultural meaning.
Harry Marks wrote:
In the context of a patient who is struggling with neurotic inner fragmentation, that way [cultural relativism] may be easier than to explain a more forgiving moral framework than the one bedeviling them. But when it is willfully taken up as one's map and compass for life, the result is people who have lost their way. The fundamental ontology at the core of meaning is no longer accessible to them, and they are at the mercy of whatever system of self-deception comes down the road.
This analysis pertains to society as well as the individual. When a society is struggling with neurotic inner fragmentation, lacking any coherent shared explicit agreement on identity, values fall into disarray, and a radical relativistic equivocation between all values is asserted as a necessary result of the primary values of tolerance, freedom and equality.

Criticism is reserved for those who adhere to absolute visions, who insist on a fundamental ontology at the core of meaning. So deception can equally occur at mass level as well as at the individual scale.
Harry Marks wrote:
There's a blaze of light in every word, and it doesn't matter which you heard, the holy, or the broken, "Alleluia".
This famous poetry from Leonard Cohen is a great example of what Jung calls enantiodromia, the paradoxical transformation of things into their opposites, with the vision of Jesus Christ as holy precisely because he is broken, having gone through cross to resurrection as the basis of the Hallelujah.


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Post Re: Answer to Job
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Jung’s focus on the psychology of the apocalypse in Answer to Job is interesting. His sober recognition that the world does face apocalyptic risks, and that the ideas in the Bible can be helpful in addressing such risks, seems to me the best way to confront denial. There certainly are absolutes for the fate of the earth. In Answer to Job Jung uses the risks of nuclear and chemical warfare as examples. Today we could focus on climate change.
I think I am coming around to agreeing with this. I have seen, over and over in my life, practical considerations trumping idealistic ones.
What are our practical and idealistic considerations regarding the apocalypse? The Biblical images of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ on the clouds of glory are certainly idealistic. And yet even this supernatural story, with the image of the division between the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, is remarkably practical in its insistence that salvation depends primarily on performance of works of care.
Harry Marks wrote:
To some extent that is as it should be, and an "Ought" presumes a "Can." (But Brueggemann's "The Prophetic Imagination" argues, essentially, "take another look at that claim of what is impossible. And then take still another look.")
Preventing apocalyptic collapse goes further than this prophetic imagination framework of Brueggemann. The implication is to say that if it is possible to prevent collapse, such action becomes a moral duty that the world must do. In the climate collapse scenario, the observation that removing dangerous carbon from the air and sea is possible entails the moral duty that we must do everything in our power to restore the climate.
Harry Marks wrote:
In the apocalyptic case we have to get past our sense that individual effort is helpless before the inexorable will of the crowd or operation of the system, because the results of the blind crowd or the uncurtailed system are too devastating to be accepted. In a strange kind of reversal, what was seen as idealistic becomes the dominant aspect of reality.
This “strange kind of reversal” between idea and reality seems to reference the key arguments of Answer to Job that God becomes conscious in man, that divinity is constructed in myth, and that this act of deliberate idealistic construction becomes the dominant aspect of reality for the community of belief.

Jung references this sense of individual effort in discussing the possible existence of Jesus, saying “it is perfectly possible, psychologically, for the unconscious or an archetype to take complete possession of a man and to determine his fate down to the smallest detail.” His suggestion is that a person in ancient Jerusalem was aware of the archetypal myth of the advent of an anointed Saviour, a Christ Jesus, and did everything he could to live out that dream. That model does not involve literal acceptance of any myths such as pre-existence, incarnation or the miraculous, and yet it does offer a path to make an idea of messianic presence real.

As a scientist, Jung recognised that the Gospels are propaganda and do not provide evidence at the level normally expected of historical facts. His comment on this problem of the Christ Myth Theory is worth quoting: “[In the Gospels], the commonplace is so interwoven with the miraculous and the mythical that we can never be sure of our facts. Perhaps the most disturbing and confusing thing of all is that the oldest writings, those of St. Paul, do not seem to have the slightest interest in Christ's existence as a concrete human being. The synoptic gospels are equally unsatisfactory as they have more the character of propaganda than of biography.”

But that does not at all mean that Jung saw this uncertainty as undermining the legitimacy of faith in Christ. He suggests this syndrome of archetypal possession as the basis of the Jesus story indicates how “the fact that the life of Christ is largely myth does absolutely nothing to disprove its factual truth.”

The Second Coming could equally involve the same process of ideal construction, in a situation where a social demand wants to make a perceived necessity happen. Just as with the alleged first coming of Jesus, such hope giving birth to belief could gain a social compulsion beyond the well-known mental illness of the Jerusalem Syndrome.

Such a social compulsion around belief in the Second Coming could primarily arise in the event that a compelling scientific analysis of apocalyptic myth is presented that involves acceptance of the Biblical framework of salvation through the presence of a Jesus Christ figure as a mediator between the world and a vision of eternal truth.
Harry Marks wrote:
I am not invested in arguing absoluteness of moral rules, but rather in arguing the importance of a structure of meaning which is flexible enough to accept that some types of moral ambiguity are part of the way values work. The Cohen/Jung recognition of shadows and cracks is a vantage point from which to see the operation of the ambiguity, but it would be a mistake to give up on maps of meaning just because they have to work with shadows and cracks.
This recognition of ambiguity seems to me to be entailed by the core gospel ethics that the last shall be first and the meek shall inherit the earth. These ideas involve respect for people who are broken and damaged and incoherent. At the same time, it is possible to imagine an ideal that is seen as a moral goal to work towards, without using that goal as a way to enforce absolute compliance.

In this regard, a useful commentary on the ambiguities in Leonard Cohen’s song Anthem, with the famous line ‘there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’ is at https://qz.com/835076/leonard-cohens-an ... t-gets-in/
Harry Marks wrote:
There is a very, very different quality in the question "Which is truly more democratic?" than in the question, "Which is more truly a tree?" The second is about words, the first is about the constructions that can be created using words. Agreeing on the meaning of "democratic" is, in part, an agreement about what we will value.
Yes, this example of democracy highlights the constructed nature of values. Kant explored the distinction here in his distinction between analytic statements of fact and synthetic statements of value. Inevitably, any religious or social idea where interpretations legitimately differ is a synthesis, a cultural construction, such as democracy, love, salvation, truth, rights, reality or grace. These ideas are metaphysical in that their meaning involves normative beliefs about values, not just descriptive knowledge of physical facts. By contrast, analytic statements admit of clear objective material definition.
Harry Marks wrote:
As a result, the longing for abstract precision in defining the content of our "Ultimate Concern" (or even agreeing on whether such a thing as ultimate concern exists) is misplaced. It may not be as misguided as the fundamentalist's longing for absolute supernatural authority for their beliefs, but there is a kinship.
That is all perfectly reasonable, and yet it is possible to hold out the hope that compelling ideas will emerge that do provide abstract precision about ultimate concern. My view is that showing how the ideational superstructure of religion corresponds to the empirical base of planetary cosmo-geology is the best heuristic to work toward this goal.

It seems reasonable to me to say that human survival and flourishing are ultimate concerns. The kinship with fundamentalism is the desire for absolute truth, and yet the difference is that such a scientific model does actually rest upon absolute facts such as that the earth orbits the sun and night follows day, whereas the flawed fundamentalist absolute is the imaginary existence of a supernatural entity, a theory better explained by psychological projection than divine revelation.
Harry Marks wrote:
I see the Jungian (and New Age) openness to weirdness "within nature" as basically a set of ways to access our relationship to our archetypal psychological structures. Tarot cards and astrology basically work with projection, where our fears and other shadowy emotional forces are given a chance to emerge despite our efforts to repress them. Any psychologist working with personalities will find the same thing in Rohrschach methodology and Thematic apperception tests, for example.
Jung’s weirdest idea is probably his concept of synchronicity, which he described as an ‘acausal connecting principle’ in his essay introducing the Chinese oracle the I Ching. Rather than the weird idea of acausality, I prefer to see synchronicity as indicating the existence of natural causal energies and processes that our scientific methods have not yet been able to detect, such as the idea that all events at one time share a common quality. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity


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Post Re: Answer to Job
Robert Tulip wrote:
This lack of public interest in global material fate illustrates a basic problem of religion. Surely the question of where we are headed should be a central moral concern?

It just goes to show that much religion is a source of comforting fantasy rather than a description of reality or a coherent statement of what we should do about reality. Fate is a topic that should be central to both religion and science. The lack of interest in fate shows the weak state of serious dialogue between science and religion.
It shows a lot of things that might be easy to pass over without it. In many ways we have the emotional and social makeup of hunter-gatherers. Those who are able to see beyond the limited horizons of tribe and community, by virtue of secure childhood and proper education, have the problem of representing that greater vision to the others.

American society, not uniquely but more than European and East Asian, has formed political habits of cooperating at the local level but leaving larger groups to fend for themselves. In a society of high individual opportunity there is less sense that we sink or fall together and thus must be in solidarity. Because of the policy experience that has resulted, the working classes quite rightly do not trust the leading classes to have their interests at heart. So when leading classes say, "Okay, now you have to make sacrifices for the planet," the working classes are inclined to urge them to put it where the sun doesn't shine. Somebody else's problem - they are doing all they can to make ends meet.

I don't think religion is the path to rebuilding that trust, but at least the scorn for religion could be dropped.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Jung puts this well in Answer to Job, saying “the thread by which our fate hangs is wearing thin. Not nature, but the ‘genius of mankind’ has knotted the hangman's noose with which it can execute itself at any moment. This is simply another form of speech for what John called the 'wrath of God.'”
After reading much of the essay, I am not convinced that the logic transfers at all smoothly from the noose of nuclear war to the noose of climate change. Most obviously the antagonistic, punitive and self-righteous side of our collective unconscious, that threatens nuclear war in several parts of the world, does not really help us understand the lethargic, short-sighted, tightwad psychology that refuses to come to grips with climate change.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Just as the human mind is the source of evil in the world, so too can the human mind construct a vision of redemption through this fateful recognition that human artifice has constructed the conditions that mythology personifies as wrath.

Jung expands on this idea of fate as the wrath of God by speaking of "the brutal power of the demiurge: "This is I, the creator of all the ungovernable, ruthless forces of Nature, which are not subject to any ethical laws. I, too, am an amoral force of Nature, a purely phenomenal personality that cannot see its own back." ... a kind of Moira or Dike rules over Yahweh."
This whole line of thought doesn't work very well for me. Inexorability about reality, yes. Dike, which evidently can be expressed as justice in the sense of "that which is proper", leads to the conclusion that if you break it, you have to do without it. Moira, the fate that even the gods cannot change, is not a bad image for reality's inexorability.

But I think Jung was reaching too far when he tried to equate the un-self-aware ruthless Yahweh with the blindness of nature, and then to imply a kind of inevitability about this "wrath of God" attaching to our fate. It is true that our un-self-aware pursuit of material comfort without regard to the planet has the problem that it "cannot see its own back". The question of reining in carbon, for example, baffles many people who only want to know if they are going to pay more for gasoline in their pickup truck. The concept of taking moral responsibility for what they are doing to the environment is utterly outside their moral frame of reference and they can't see their own weakness in that regard.

But the problem is not one of being unable to see other people as mattering, or of being unwilling to consider an alternative point of view because it is "the enemy's". So I don't think it lines up very well with the omnipotent Yahweh who silences Job rather than being questioned about the justice of his choices, and who must thereafter study how to accept his own vulnerability caused by truly caring, rather than just telling himself he cares in order to seem just.

If anything, I think we learn more about this character, the shallow "willfully blind," by studying the Hebrews who flirted with fertility gods (i.e. economic power) rather than stay true to Yahweh, the God of Justice (or at least of covenant).

Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
If human civilization departs from a path of compatibility with the natural fate of the earth, then the absolute end result of this departure can be experienced as the wrath of God.
Maybe, but as a rhetorical strategy this suffers from the subjectivity of claims about the wrath of God.
Maybe I need to be clearer here. Some fundamentalists are claiming that the end of the earth is a good thing. Some others are also claiming that global warming is a lie because God promised not to flood the earth again. People who are used to tribal, ego-driven interpretation of scripture as a social guideline will not listen to scientists purporting to explicate the form the wrath of God will take.

Or, who knows, maybe they will. Enough footage of towns underwater may actually wake people up. The polls seem to have moved due to Hurricane Harvey. But my intent in distrusting the rhetoric of divine wrath was to point out how wide open such subconscious forces can be - what a loose cannon it is.

Robert Tulip wrote:
I disagree that calling God the fate of the earth is subjective. Subjectivity only enters the picture when we postulate an arbitrary, capricious, personal intentional entity as the bearer of wrath.
Well, let's just say you have a high hill to roll the boulder up, to change anyone's mind by talking about God as anything other than a personal intentional entity, whose capriciousness hides as "sovereignty" and whose wrath generally focuses on scapegoats.

Robert Tulip wrote:
if we choose to destroy the earth, there is a real moral sense that this would be the result of a constructed reality for which humans are to blame, a framework of agency that can legitimately be viewed with the metaphysics of wrath, just as the converse human decision to restore the climate can be mythologised as a path to divine blessing.
Yes, well if your idea is just to focus people on their moral responsibility, I think that makes some sense. But the people who accept scientist's ideas about the inevitable consequences here are not the ones who will be swayed by imagery of the wrath of God.

On the other hand, I am a fan of using mythopoetic arguments to signal solidarity, so in that sense I might encourage you to go on with this line of thinking. It might actually engender some trust to hear things put this way.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Jung is remarkably supportive of traditional piety with his analysis of the Virgin Mary, a myth that he sees as embodying a necessary upwelling of the unconscious feminine within a patriarchal culture. It gets back to his main point that religious beliefs cannot be analysed or understood primarily in terms of whether the events described actually happened, but must be first seen in terms of their psychic cultural meaning.
Quite a bit of the current political tension in the U.S. and Europe can be seen in terms of tensions over masculinity in a world where education is the dominant determinant of status. The "threat" posed by immigration and by Muslim culture activates a climate of tribal fear in which aggression is also a restoration of masculine status. Brooks had a column in the NY Times today about martial "mythic" stories dominating over relational "parables" in today's culture. I think he was stretching the point, but it was interesting.

But it is useless to credit some kind of inevitability about such archetypal tendencies. Education is going to continue to be dominant economically, and thus a fair share of women are going to continue to want interesting jobs and some even to reject motherhood. The "Handmaid's Tale" nightmare of Gilead is not completely impossible, but there continue to be enough nurturant and relational men, especially among the high-status educated types, that Gilead doesn't seem to be in the cards. The recent rebellion in the Southern Baptist Church, throwing out arch-conservative leadership that had suppressed acknowledgement of sexual abuse, shows that Wisdom still has her charms.
Robert Tulip wrote:
((From the previous post)) We have an intuitive instinctive sense of gender, extending to the traditional metaphysical associations that ancient cultures developed such as in the mythology of yin and yang as symbols of female and male type energies in the world. Are these really less fundamental than space and time?
Oh, definitely. So much of them is social construction, and the interaction of biology with culture, that our brains have to be constructing most of our feeling for gender out of externalized cues. There do seem to be some deep biological strata to our gender sense, including color preference and interest in nurturing infants, but dissecting that out has been extremely difficult. Space and time are almost the opposite: you can't miss the biological, inevitable systems for structuring experience with them. The cultural overlay of clock time or learned distances, for example, doesn't obscure anything about the inability not to miss time passage, sequencing or spatial relations.
Robert Tulip wrote:
When a society is struggling with neurotic inner fragmentation, lacking any coherent shared explicit agreement on identity, values fall into disarray, and a radical relativistic equivocation between all values is asserted as a necessary result of the primary values of tolerance, freedom and equality.

((From the previous post))This theme of the centrality of trust for social cohesion raises an interesting problem for the relation between instinct and reason. Job is in effect saying that despite God’s betrayal of him, he will continue to place his trust in God. On the surface this seems an irrational example of blind faith, but perhaps it displays a deeper rationality, a sense of the values that are needed to hold a society together, a sense that the accidents that happened to him are against the run of expectation.
Yes, the cognitive role in illuminating meaning is every bit as important as the emotional role. Emotional panic can be aroused instantly by a threatening cognition, and can be calmed just as quickly by a realization that the threat was illusory.

The faith at the heart of Job's story is a species of meta-cognition. No matter what happens, one can stand aside from it and choose one's values. Not inevitably, but in my experience those who say they cannot stand outside their fears always can, with a little coaching. But of course the ease of doing so is created by a strong sense of reliability in life.

Cultural fragmentation is a kind of destruction (or maybe delegitimization) of that coach. People cannot hear the calming interpretations because they do not have any sense that values are something more than "opinion" or "subjectivity." So if they are "hearing" fear from their first interpretations of their experience, they do not believe there is a deeper stratum of meaning to be consulted.

Actually, many such relativists do get "deeper meaning", but only because they have experience within themselves of self-calming by reflection on values - not because they can accept any outside explanation of matters as a source of liberation from their anxieties.

I think there is a lot to be hoped for from re-learning the Stoic virtue of standing outside one's emotions to maintain a commitment to virtue, by connecting to that inner experience. Most people grasp its value intuitively, whether they have experience with it or not. What the fragmented world of social meaning has done is cut it off from validation by that common understanding.

An interpretive framework is needed, comprehensive enough to connect up ontological categories like "right and wrong" with the social processes that are created by the virtue of maintaining commitment to values in the face of stress and threat (as opposed to the much shallower processes of pleading victimization as a social weapon).

It might help some people to understand that the experience (self-calming by reflection on values) is essentially the same as Paul's notion of "salvation through faith".



Last edited by Harry Marks on Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:51 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Answer to Job
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
From our point of view as a species living on earth, the ultimate question is what we must do to survive, based on understanding of what features of reality affect us.
Well, I think the question of what makes life worthwhile is even more fundamental. But the two questions will line up remarkably well, since one cannot do species survival as a game against other human beings.
Harry, your comment seems untrue. You say what makes life worthwhile is more fundamental than what we must do to survive as a species. On the Maslow hierarchy of needs, the physiological needs of existence are more basic than the self-actualisation needs of making life worthwhile. Perhaps you could argue that without vision the people perish, so physical needs require the spiritual framework of faith, inverting Maslow's pyramid. To my mind that is a risky and unbalanced approach, since a scientific model of physics should provide the context for idealistic aspirations.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
It means a step back from the sense that our God is the ultimate creator of the universe, toward a view that our God is the aspects of the universe that are relevant to us. This helps to put care at the focus of faith.
Or we could just put the questions of care at the focus of faith. Of course that is essentially what you do when you ask for "the aspects of the universe that are relevant to us."
Jung is exploring a natural concept of God, whereby the myth of God as an intentional personal being is deconstructed to apply to an actual referent rather than an imaginary one.

The unusual thing about God is that the actual referent is the human imaginative construction of the source of cosmic order, with all the actual intelligence and consciousness projected from human ideas onto an imagined supreme being, imputing deliberate will to unconscious natural processes through the religious concepts of blessing and wrath. Such imputation has proven to be a practical way to simplify and explain more complex moral ideas, while containing risks of distortion.

A further aspect of the distinction here between the creator of the universe and the aspects of the universe that are relevant to us is the old myth from Plato of the demiurge, the subordinate divinity responsible for creating the world, which as I noted above Jung mentions in connection with Yahweh.

Demiurge has been a fraught concept, partly because “world” is a highly ambiguous concept, referring both to natural planet and to constructed culture. So critics have taken the Gnostic observation that the world is evil to refer to nature rather than culture, when it seems more coherent to say the original meaning was that prevailing culture was lost in delusion.

The old idea of God as universal creator evolved long before knowledge arose of the immense scale of the cosmos. The only cosmic scale that is relevant to human evolution is the solar system, as I discuss at some length in my recent essay on The Precessional Structure of Time. The solar system provides the orderly context for the evolution of the earth as a stable cocoon for life and the emergence of human consciousness. The effect of the galaxy and larger scales are just too remote, setting the initial conditions but having no ongoing direct influence on the evolution of life on earth.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
My starting point for faith is to say we should aim only to have faith in things that are real and true.
Dealing with world three objects, "real" and "true" are ambiguous issues.
Putting Jung’s metaphysical language in the context of Popper’s epistemology should be a helpful way to proceed in a systematic method. http://www.open-science-repository.com/ ... three.html explains that Popper's world three is objective knowledge while world two contains beliefs, feelings and motivations.

As per the earlier discussion, democracy is a subjective concept resting on values, like our ideas of reality and truth. Even though they seem to underpin scientific knowledge, reality and truth contain such ambiguity that they are not in themselves scientific or physical concepts but are metaphysical. Any meaning that we invest in universal abstract concepts like reality and truth involves unproveable assumptions that have the character of faith.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
… a big tradition in theology, the proof of the existence of God… has been badly corrupted by the church assumption that the God of the Bible is the creator of the universe.
That tradition is motivated by a corrupt question: how to manipulate people into living a caring life by threats from the other world.
The extent to which belief in the afterlife is corrupt is complex. To demand obedience under threat of hellfire or promise of heaven does present a simplistic morality.

And yet it is not simply corrupt. Weber argues in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism that the deferred gratification produced by the Calvinist theories of heaven and afterlife was a decisive moral impetus to the rise of the investment culture that transformed the modern creation of wealth through thrift and education. The pious merchants of Amsterdam cared enough about the threat of hellfire to focus on living lives of strict probity, hope and austerity.

The converse of the threat of damnation is the promise of predestination. In Answer to Job, Jung says that “taken psychologically, as a means to achieving a definite effect, it can readily be understood that these allusions to predestination give one a feeling of distinction. If one knows that one has been singled out by divine choice and intention from the beginning of the world, then one feels lifted beyond the transitoriness and meaninglessness of ordinary human existence and transported to a new state of dignity and importance, like one who has a part in the divine world drama. In this way man is brought nearer to God, and this is in entire accord with the meaning of the message in the gospels.”


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Post Re: Answer to Job
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
Well, I think the question of what makes life worthwhile is even more fundamental [than "what we must do to survive"]. But the two questions will line up remarkably well, since one cannot do species survival as a game against other human beings.

Harry, your comment seems untrue. You say what makes life worthwhile is more fundamental than what we must do to survive as a species. On the Maslow hierarchy of needs, the physiological needs of existence are more basic than the self-actualisation needs of making life worthwhile.
I will try to explain. I often get the feeling this is a fundamental difference between our worldviews.

First, I note you posed the question from the point of view of the species, so I changed the question (without saying so) when I gave my response. If that has been a source of confusion, I apologize.

But here's my perspective: without a moral framework, in which something matters more than the pleasure or pain impacting my nervous system, we do not even care about our own children, much less the survival of all children. You can argue that caring for my descendants is instinctive, and that's true, but when it is part of an evaluative system the instinctive nature of the reasoning is irrelevant - it is still an answer to the question of what makes life worthwhile.

In essence I am arguing that even a person who has never given any conscious thought to what makes life worthwhile still has their system of answer to it.

There is an interesting piece in the New York Times (yes, I know, that is most of what I read) arguing that suicide rates are up in part because of a crisis of meaning:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/23/opin ... risis.html
We are losing sources that used to connect people to a sense of mattering to more than just themselves. It may be true, as Maslow observes, that you have to have basic security needs met before you will pay attention to such issues, but they can seriously affect your level of motivation and pleasure in life even if you are not paying attention to them.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Perhaps you could argue that without vision the people perish, so physical needs require the spiritual framework of faith, inverting Maslow's pyramid. To my mind that is a risky and unbalanced approach, since a scientific model of physics should provide the context for idealistic aspirations.
No, I am not arguing that mattering matters more than being alive (though in some sense it does). I am arguing that issues of future survival are not the same thing as physical needs. After all, no one survives forever. And the human race will probably perish one day, perhaps as the solar system loses its light. The question of how to keep it going matters, but within the realm of all things that matter, not within the realm of things that I must have in order to be able to pay attention to my self-esteem or to pay attention to what matters in life.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Jung is exploring a natural concept of God, whereby the myth of God as an intentional personal being is deconstructed to apply to an actual referent rather than an imaginary one.
If only he had been so careful about what he was exploring, and about explaining it. I think he was just making some observations that occurred to him while thinking about the pathologies in our "mass imagining" of God.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The unusual thing about God is that the actual referent is the human imaginative construction of the source of cosmic order, with all the actual intelligence and consciousness projected from human ideas onto an imagined supreme being, imputing deliberate will to unconscious natural processes through the religious concepts of blessing and wrath. Such imputation has proven to be a practical way to simplify and explain more complex moral ideas, while containing risks of distortion.
It might be better to think of the human imagination starting from cataclysmic matters, whether volcanoes or hallucinations of a dead person, and gradually putting together a picture of hidden, ultra-powerful agents. However, I agree that the picture gradually became one of a creator source of cosmic order, and that this functioned largely as a projection of unconscious urges.

Risks of distortion, in such a framework, is putting it mildly.

Robert Tulip wrote:
critics have taken the Gnostic observation that the world is evil to refer to nature rather than culture, when it seems more coherent to say the original meaning was that prevailing culture was lost in delusion.
I don't know the sources, including Plato, well enough to evaluate that proposition, but it seems reasonable to me that it might have been Plato's intent (or perhaps underlying thrust behind what he said).
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
My starting point for faith is to say we should aim only to have faith in things that are real and true.
Dealing with world three objects, "real" and "true" are ambiguous issues.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Putting Jung’s metaphysical language in the context of Popper’s epistemology should be a helpful way to proceed in a systematic method. http://www.open-science-repository.com/ ... three.html explains that Popper's world three is objective knowledge while world two contains beliefs, feelings and motivations.
Your source has misled you slightly. The definition in the source is

Open Science Repository wrote:
It [World Three] is made of abstract objects, ideas, since descriptions of problems, theories and arguments are abstract ideas.
But also:
The world two is the world of subjective experiences; we can call it the world of consciousness. It also includes all other subjective experiences such as feelings, emotions, sensations, etc.
Subjective experiences are the inhabitants of the world two.

The idea is supposed to be that the things constructed by the mind are World Three, while perceptions, including feelings, are World Two. So when you stated that beliefs are in World Two, you were tracking "subjective" rather than "constructed" or "abstract".
Objective knowledge is pretty much all found in World Three, but note that mistaken objective construction, such as phlogiston or Newtonian Mechanics, are also World Three. Other things can be abstract constructions besides objective knowledge.

So my point was that having faith only in things that are real and true is misguided, because "democracy" and "the rule of law" and "the United States of America" and "the exchange rate between crowns and ducats" are of ambiguous reality and truth.

I am being a bit of a devil's advocate. As I have said before, I favor the true over the imaginary pretty much every time (contra the argument in "The Life of Pi" for example) that they come in conflict. But I do insist on healthy respect for the imaginary. It does not need to be brought into conflict with the real - only literalists do that.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The extent to which belief in the afterlife is corrupt is complex. To demand obedience under threat of hellfire or promise of heaven does present a simplistic morality.

And yet it is not simply corrupt.

Without getting into Weber or other psychological analyses of the functioning of afterlife beliefs, I take the point. If one is willing to see the Last Judgment as a story we tell ourselves, somewhat like the warriors who wear the magic to protect them from bullets, then it operates on a number of levels at once and can certainly be accepted and even promoted in all innocence.

When you get to insistence on its revealed truth, you are dabbling in another kind of corruption, namely enforcing myth. Compelling belief. And when you scratch that a layer or two down, you come up with corrupt manipulation at best - sometimes it is instead a pathological sadism which is even worse. I was observing that an elaborate system, "the Church", the embodiment of Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor, was constructed around exactly this effort to enforce myth and compel belief. It was self-consciously justifying its behavior on those grounds. I don't think there is any way to avoid the fundamental corruption of that enterprise.

What makes it quite scary is the systematic avoidance of recognizing that corruption.

Even at the time of Galileo the church had a sense of the importance of freedom of conscience. It was teaching, not belief, that was forbidden. Yet its justifications for such rules were completely in confusion about the difference between power and authority. The authority of the church had been so systematically compromised for the sake of its power (or the power of the throne through it) that it could not even raise the question to itself.

When Erasmus published his "Julius Exclusus" about the Pope being denied entry to Heaven, he should not have had to do it anonymously. (The parallels to our present Dear Leader are delicious, for those with that turn of mind.)

Robert Tulip wrote:
The pious merchants of Amsterdam cared enough about the threat of hellfire to focus on living lives of strict probity, hope and austerity.
It's interesting to compare their behavior in the slave castles of Africa (and the ships stopping there) to this pious probity and austerity back in the home country. Predestination is a very sick system.



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Post Re: Answer to Job
Harry Marks wrote:
I think I am coming around to agreeing with this. I have seen, over and over in my life, practical considerations trumping idealistic ones.
Robert Tulip wrote:
What are our practical and idealistic considerations regarding the apocalypse? The Biblical images of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ on the clouds of glory are certainly idealistic. And yet even this supernatural story, with the image of the division between the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, is remarkably practical in its insistence that salvation depends primarily on performance of works of care.
Umm, no, in the context of both policy and everyday practice, "practical" connotes the opposite of works of care. Extravagant works, outside of the norms of affordability, will continue to be marginalized. [Edit to add: I think I bypassed your point, which was that judgement was to be based on something tangible, with meaning not dependent on the supernatural. With that I agree, but it works at cross-purposes to the "practical vs. idealistic" tension I was focused on.]

I was quite serious in considering the apocalyptic dangers in the world today to be revolutionary with regards to the tension between idealism and the practical. The anti-education wing of the electorate considers environmental concerns to be examples of "liberal" (in the sense of "hopelessly impractical") foolhardiness. Suddenly idealistic concerns with the common good have become the truly practical option, and supposedly practical focus on staying within one's means have become the concern of the impractical posing to itself as anti-idealistic.

There is some interesting stuff going on relative to Jung's somewhat misguided analysis of the interplay between theological developments and apocalyptic mythology. Jung sees a "dissociation" (@605) of incarnated God from God's "amoral" side. (Dissociation, in depth psychology, is extremely dangerous. A person proceeding along two tracks, running on different and incompatible logics, is in very deep trouble. We saw this with Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, Gary Hart and Ted Kennedy over sex. All of them were dedicated public servants, in the truest sense, but had split off their narcissistic sides as a result and were unable to make sound, rational choices about their love lives. One gets the feeling that Bernie Sanders has been following a different set of priorities from the beginning, not trying to pose as anything or win approval from gatekeepers and pundits.
A mild form of dissociation occurs with the traditional "two-faced" behavior of politicians and socialites. Romney admits to hostility against those receiving government help, and when it becomes public, this costs him the election, with a repeat four years later by Hillary Clinton and the "deplorables".)

Two questions arise from Jung's thesis. First, did apocalyptic prophecy represent a return of the dissociated amoral side? By insisting on asserting God's sovereignty and power, one might think yes. I'm not so sure. First, Jung makes much ado about an Atonement theory, requiring Jesus' death as a sacrifice, that isn't really present in the early church. There is a sense of judgment and the wrath of God in, say, Romans, but Paul's argument about the restoration created by Christ does not seem to hinge on Jesus being a necessary sacrifice (only Hebrews really states such an equation, and Hebrews is probably from the same tradition as the Revelation - the Ebionites, more or less).

John's Revelation is a reaction primarily against imperial power, specifically with regard to its lack of respect for religious truth and values. As such it does seem to be asserting God's claim to power. But I think there are better interpretations about how it is handling the tension between justice and power.

The Lamb may wield a sword of sorts, a sword of justice presumably, but the Lamb's power is fundamentally a healing and rescuing power, opposed to the scourges such as famine which reinforce imperial dominance systems. Jung seems to freely claim Anti-Christ and Satan as dark, hidden sides of God's power, and as long as he is thinking of God as "Reality", that kind of works. God "releases" war, pestilence, etc. out of wrath, reflecting the fact that there must be awesome power involved. But it doesn't use any sense of how God the character, our projection of a need for power, is doing its work of justice. Even more than the post-Exilic prophets, the Revelator seems to see wrathful events as something to be endured rather than to be learning important lessons from.

And if you buy Jung's view of Apocalypse as re-association of power lust, it saps most of the meaning from any claim that God incarnated Himself as a response to insight about the moral bankruptcy of punitive and arbitrary treatment of humans. God as Reality IS amoral: this is not just a dissociation driven by character dynamics. It doesn't work to suppose that the human aspiration for meaning in life, as found in holding God accountable, represents dissociation from God's need to be seen as powerful, within the dynamics of the (socially-defined) character. What it represents, instead, is the inadequacy of the construct. Justice enforced by divine wrath in nature is going to be unjust.

I think it simply makes more sense to see Jesus, Buddha and other mystical sages as choosing wisdom in response to the moral bankruptcy of worshipping a God who is punitive and arbitrary. The reassertion of power for meaning takes the form of Resurrection, rather than the (failed) claim of supernatural destruction of corrupt human institutions.

The second question arising is whether real Apocalyptic threats seen today (which do not take the form of prophetic imagery but of actual, observed threats) are in any sense restoring a proper respect for reality's Power on behalf of commands to take seriously the needs of others. On those grounds I think Jung does a little better. With both nuclear weapons and climate change, the threat of hanging is focusing the mind of the selfish and the power-obsessed.

But I am still skeptical because the commands to regard others were, formerly, presented in a context of finding meaning rather than mainly avoiding a retribution by Reality. You argue that the last Judgment is a sort of retribution by Reality, but there is obviously dissociation involved in thinking of the punishment entirely in another realm. Quite simply, it is only in the last century that it began to dawn on people that indulging our lust for Power could kill us all. Choosing the staging ground of wrath to be Heavenly judgment, taking parable as literal truth, was the true dissociation, in my view.

Robert Tulip wrote:
This recognition of ambiguity seems to me to be entailed by the core gospel ethics that the last shall be first and the meek shall inherit the earth. These ideas involve respect for people who are broken and damaged and incoherent. At the same time, it is possible to imagine an ideal that is seen as a moral goal to work towards, without using that goal as a way to enforce absolute compliance.
Yes, in a sense very similar to the reason a Messiah must be peaceable, a person must be able to grasp the meaning of the life of the most marginal, in order to experience the meaning of their own life. As long as we think our life is meaningful only by virtue of accomplishing impressive deeds which show us to be somehow superior to others, we forfeit real meaning in favor of conditional, contingent, and therefore desperate grasping after results.

Just to point out the obvious, in such a results-contingent system of meaning we can never be as meaningful as a billionaire unless we have a billion ourselves. The narcissistic delusion is obvious if you put it in such stark terms. Show me a person who thinks a billionaire matters more than you and me, and I will show you one who is inevitably a White Supremacist on the inside, even if suppressing the knowledge.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
I see the Jungian (and New Age) openness to weirdness "within nature" as basically a set of ways to access our relationship to our archetypal psychological structures.
Jung’s weirdest idea is probably his concept of synchronicity, which he described as an ‘acausal connecting principle’ in his essay introducing the Chinese oracle the I Ching. Rather than the weird idea of acausality, I prefer to see synchronicity as indicating the existence of natural causal energies and processes that our scientific methods have not yet been able to detect, such as the idea that all events at one time share a common quality. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity

I read the wiki piece on Synchronicity, and spent several hours yesterday, while gardening, thinking about it. Here's what I concluded.
Coincidence is a way of expressing significance outside of a causal framework. It is a way that the world rhymes with itself.
Literature trades heavily in "significant" details. Things that make us want to retell a story are usually things that express understanding about the world, and therefore ways that the choices of others signify implications for our choices.

But sometimes the beauty of how something is expressed, the esthetic appeal of a story, has the same effect on us as a realistic examination of causality. Visual arts are, if you like, 90 percent beauty and 10 percent representative significance, while literature is more like 20 percent appeal and 80 percent representative significance. In poetry the proportions shift dramatically, as shown by the memorability of a good song and the mnemonic aide of a rhyme.

Modern literature is learning to use "appeal" methods to covertly smuggle in significance. This was most clearly revealed to me in an introduction to Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles". The author pointed out that Hardy often uses improbably coincidences in a story. Some people just reject the improbability, but in fact he is invariably expressing some larger point. Tess, at one point estranged from Angel Clare, her genteel and educated husband, by her seducer, encounters Clare's parents at a social event. If she had appealed to them for help, they would have rescued her, but instead she turns away in shame and confusion. (This is echoed by rescued sex-slaves in Thailand who cannot go back to their families from shame, and so end up right back in a life of prostitution.) Hardy is symbolizing, in the agonizing coincidence of passing close to the parents and the parents not noticing her, the social chasm between Clare and Tess. Despite his captivation by Tess's looks, Clare cannot bridge the social distance, and Tess is afraid to appeal for the benevolent part of his higher status society to reach out and help her.

I believe synchronicity operates on our consciousness in a similar way, "contrived" not by a hidden author but by our penchant for being influenced by the striking and the bizarre. Such coincidences capture our attention like a rhyme, and so we have a tendency to assign significance to them even when there is no significance that can hold up to careful examination.

Jung, who learned a lot from patients about dreams and other ideations, links this "acausal" significance to the paranormal. And paranormal phenomena do tend to be constructed out of a perception of significance that is scientifically baseless. In societies that see ghosts, such as East Asia and, to a much smaller extent, Britain, the tendency for the mind to perceive the presence of a dead person gets interpreted as an actual phenomenon present. This is acausal significance: meaning is assigned to the experience that would not hold up to scientific examination.

In an absolutely fascinating book "When God Talks Back" Tanya Luhrmann, a highly qualified Stanford psychology prof investigated a denomination which fosters long and intense prayer as an encounter with Jesus. The members are quite explicitly told to imagine his presence, setting a place for him at their table, for example, and carrying on a (one-sided) conversation. Sometimes they hear him talk back. Based on comparison phenomena from other countries, she concludes that the person has an auditory hallucination. Such hallucinations are not actually so rare, she says, but in a situation with intense imaginative involvement, there is enough confusion between real and imagined experiences that the person fails to accurately classify the hallucination as artificial.

She cites other evidence, including her own experience, as does John Dominic Crossan, that visual hallucinations are also not uncommon and sometimes systematically misinterpreted for reasons that are heavily culturally conditioned.

In that light, Paul's declaration of the "appearances" of the risen Christ amounts to a dramatic claim of paranormal experience. Of course one possibility is that Jesus rose and has magical powers. But if you don't go with that one, what is to be made of claims of simultaneous experience of the absent Teacher after death? One way to think about it is to imagine a scenario in which disciples are discussing their group after the Savior's death and one of them whispers to another "I saw the Master yesterday after lunch." And the other, bug-eyed, says, "What! I saw him, too, at the same time!" The coincidence is too much for them to overlook, and the story gradually takes on the shape of the Master appearing to both together, as it gets retold.

With a powerful personal presence such as Jesus probably had, is it not possible that Jesus was "simultaneously" seen by even larger numbers (five? twenty? I have trouble believing it was ever more than that) but that the numbers as well as the presence together for the occasion got re-told in an exaggerated way. Starting with a rather innocuous synchronicity, the perception of significance leads to passing on a story that grows with the telling.



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Post Re: Answer to Job
Harry Marks wrote:
The question of what about existence is good is a proper starting place for integrating knowledge with values.
Integration of knowledge with values is a fundamental theme connecting philosophy, politics and economics, the great modern Oxford subjects, raising the whole central social problem of how policy can be guided by evidence, how ethical goals, our theory of the good, relate to empirical theory of change.

When we claim that something is intrinsically good, such as care for others, we assert a factual status for that claim, beyond a mere statement of subjective sentiment which others could legitimately disagree on. And yet the validity of such moral statements is entirely different from the truth of scientific facts. A difference between science and moral theory is that science, in its classical empirical method, aspired to be free of all values, even though that aspiration breaks down as soon as we need to make any decisions on priorities. Empirical methods avoid speculation about what is good, preferring pursuit of just the facts. By contrast, religion and all morality insist a theory of value is central, always placing facts in the context of beliefs about what is good.

Science that claims a value-free stance tends toward political naivety, having no basis to influence action. Confusion about the fundamentally mythological nature of cultural stories about what is important promotes the cultural tendencies toward nihilism and relativism. Jung’s focus in Answer to Job is the empirical psychology of spirituality, how our beliefs about what is good and evil emerge in mythology and guide our cultural values, illustrating how knowledge of facts alone is only a part of a coherent integrated worldview.
Harry Marks wrote:
But given that Jung and others, like the entire profession of anthropology, has shown that the mythological represents to us the complexity of our relationship to life, it takes a lot of faith in human reason to suppose that we can construct a great society without reference to the forces shown by mythology.
Does mythology achieve the goal of representing complexity of relationships or only aspire to it? It must be the latter when our myths rest upon unconscious confusion. For example in your recent comments on predestination, the mythology of this doctrine, rather than primarily representing the complexity of relationships, serves instead to conceal and distort true relationships under a false moral veneer.

Atheism has tried to refute mythology by faith in reason alone. The moral basis of this atheist rational worldview is the primacy of ensuring that claims are factually true. The great myth of Christianity is that all the events of the Gospels actually happened as described, justifying the miraculous supernatural cosmology of the church. This mythical thesis is the object of derisive mockery by the antithetical modern rational myth that logic and evidence are the highest values. As with any historical dialectic process of thesis and antithesis, the cultural debate produces the need for synthesis, as Jung is suggesting in Answer to Job.

Jung’s psychological synthesis of science and religion emerges in his rather startling approach to the mythology surrounding the Virgin Mary, as discussed in my next post.


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Post Re: Answer to Job
Shortly before Jung wrote Answer to Job, the Roman Catholic Church promulgated a dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the teaching that Mary went bodily to heaven when she died. Jung argues that analysis of this teaching is a helpful way to develop a psychological understanding of religion, as explored in my last comments just above.

Jung says the many criticisms of this dogma focused more on its apparent mythological nature than on what he says was “undoubtedly the most powerful motive: namely, the popular movement and the psychological need behind it... the living religious process.” Arguing that visions of Mary involve the collective unconscious at work, he says this teaching responded to “a deep longing in the masses for an intercessor and mediatrix who would at last take her place alongside the Holy Trinity and be received as the "Queen of Heaven and Bride at the heavenly court."

The emotional comfort and social ritual provided by Mariolatry in the Catholic tradition meets a popular psychological and cultural need that cannot be rebutted simply by a focus on scientific evidence. The iconic image of the Blessed Virgin Mary emerges from her great hymn recorded in the first chapter of Luke's Gospel. This text, called the Magnificat, magnifies Mary's holy status as the mother of God through her avowed humility, scattering the proud, feeding the hungry and exalting the faithful.

No mere facts can destroy the power of this image, which as Jung says, exists in the psyche rather than in evidence. His analysis of how Mary exists as an archetype in the collective unconscious emerges from the psychological need for balance. The patriarchal tradition of Father, Son and Holy Spirit has excluded the divine feminine, especially with the apparent change of gender of the Holy Spirit from female to male. Jung argues in Answer to Job that the celebration of Mary as Queen of Heaven helps to formalise a cultural recognition of feminine principles.

Jung places Mary in continuity with the Old Testament context of Sophia, the feminine divine Wisdom, who was with God before the creation. So too, Mary's sacred status reflects the ancient Egyptian theology of the need for God to become man by means of a human mother, and the prehistoric belief that the primordial divine being is both male and female. He describes the Catholic proclamation in 1950 as psychologically significant for uniting the heavenly bride, Mary, with God as the bridegroom, reflecting the divine marriage between Christ and the church as the mythological basis for the incarnation of God in Christ.

The duality of male and female is mirrored in myths about day and night, sun and moon, active and passive, order and nurture, heaven and earth, spirit and matter, light and dark. A whole series of such binary relationships provide metaphysical support in faith for this heavenly myth of divine marriage between the father and mother. None of these can be properly interpreted in simplistic terms. They are complementary rather than opposed, with each binary side also in some way present within its opposite, serving as mutually supporting tendencies rather than absolutes.

Jung argues against the old patriarchal church teaching of woman as the source of original sin. Instead, he sees the purely male concept of God as a pathology in need of correction at the archetypal level of popular myth. He says “a longing for the exaltation of the Mother of God passes through the people. This tendency, if thought to its logical conclusion, means the desire for the birth of a saviour, a peacemaker, a mediator making peace between enemies and reconciling the world.”

Crucially, Jung says “arguments based on historical criticism will never do justice to the new dogma; on the contrary, they are lamentably wide of the mark, failing to understand that God has eternally wanted to become man… [Such arguments] ignore the continued operation of the Holy Spirit… the tremendous archetypal happenings in the psyche of the individual and the masses, and the symbols which are intended to compensate the truly apocalyptic world situation today.”

The primary question for psychology in assessing such social symbols is therefore the social impact of the teachings of the Catholic Church, rather than their literal historical evidence. Jung says the Holy Ghost who works in the hidden places of the soul reveals the divine drama through the operation of this unconscious archetypal mythology. Calling such statements mythological does not in the slightest mean that psychic happenings vanish into thin air by being explained.

Sophia, or the wisdom of God, is defined by Jung as feminine nature that existed before the Creation, as described in the hymn to wisdom at Proverbs 8: “Set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was by him, as a master workman, and I was his delight, rejoicing always before him, rejoicing in his habitable earth.”

Jung says “the reappearance of Sophia in the heavenly regions [in the person of Mary] points to a coming act of creation. She is indeed the "master workman"; she realizes God's thoughts by clothing them in material form, which is the prerogative of all feminine beings. Her coexistence with Yahweh signifies the perpetual divine marriage from which worlds are conceived and born.”

The metaphysical duality involves the idea that “heaven is masculine, but the earth is feminine. Therefore God has his throne in heaven, while Wisdom has hers on the earth.” The great vision of hope of the union of heaven and earth appears in the story of the new Jerusalem coming down like a bridegroom.

For psychology, Jung emphasises that “God is an obvious psychic and non-physical fact, i.e., a fact that can be established psychically but not physically.” So the meaning of all this language is symbolic rather than literal, providing the basis for Jung to state that he considered the dogma of the Assumption to be “the most important religious event since the Reformation.”

He sees those who reject this focus on psychic reality as prey to “the unpsychological mind: [they ask] how can such an unfounded assertion as the bodily reception of the Virgin into heaven be put forward as worthy of belief?”

Jung’s answer to this modern rational objection combines observation of the evolution of faith with traditional views. We observe the psychic phenomenon of belief, and “it does not matter at all that a physically impossible fact is asserted, because all religious assertions are physical impossibilities… religious statements without exception have to do with the reality of the psyche and not with the reality of physics.”

The psychic reality in this case of Mary is that the "heavenly bridegroom" must now “have a bride with equal rights” or Christianity is “nothing but a man's religion which allows no metaphysical representation of woman… , anchored in the figure of a "divine" woman… The feminine, like the masculine, demands an equally personal representation.” While the ongoing sexism within religion illustrates that this ideal of gender equality has not been reached, Jung's argument is that the mythical story exalting Mary represents an unconscious motive driven by moral intuition.

Jung recognises the problem that such mythological dogmas remove Christianity further than ever from the sphere of worldly understanding. At the same time, he also cautions against casting cheap aspersions against all dogma. Instead, he calls for religious analysis to weigh the priority of efforts to come to terms with the world and its ideas against efforts to come to terms with God.

Imagining the place of Mary the Mother of God in the heavenly bridal-chamber involves what Jung calls “the great task of reinterpreting all the Christian traditions.” Truths which are anchored deep in the soul need the freedom of the spirit, which he notes has been a focus of Protestantism. Jung says “The dogma of the Assumption is a slap in the face for the historical and rationalistic view of the world, and would remain so for all time if one were to insist obstinately on the arguments of reason and history. This is a case, if ever there was one, where psychological understanding is needed, because the mythologem [basic theme] coming to light is so obvious that we must be deliberately blinding ourselves if we cannot see its symbolic nature and interpret it in symbolic terms.”

The myth of a heavenly marriage links to the psychology of individuation whereby every child becomes an adult. Jung sees this process as dependent on symbols which make the irrational union of opposites possible, produced spontaneously by the unconscious and amplified by the conscious mind to form the totality of the self, symbolised by the divine child. In a remarkable comment, Jung says this role of symbols in bringing opposites together means we cannot tell the difference between God and the unconscious as border-line concepts for transcendental contents and sources for an archetype of wholeness which manifests itself spontaneously in dreams, etc.

The dogma of the assumption of the blessed virgin Mary into heaven reflects this unconscious archetype of divine wholeness in the symbolic images we have of God as unconsciously related to our self-image, which in the human ideal approaches the messianic vision of incarnation of Jesus Christ. Jung says the religious need longs for wholeness. Our desires for integration therefore lay hold of the images of wholeness offered by the unconscious, which, independently of the conscious mind, rise up from the depths of our psychic nature.

The scientific perspective that sees dogma as meaningless because it conflicts with empirical evidence fails to engage with the psychic and social realities indicated by religion in terms of what the stories mean for us today.


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Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:44 pm
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Post Re: Answer to Job
Thanks for this material. Please know that I recognize to some extent you are working through the same material with the same goal of simply processing it, and I hope by my greater amount of free time I am not stepping on that. But the dialogue is so helpful to me, trying to clarify how these issues fit together, that I really can't resist responding.
Robert Tulip wrote:
When we claim that something is intrinsically good, such as care for others, we assert a factual status for that claim, beyond a mere statement of subjective sentiment which others could legitimately disagree on. And yet the validity of such moral statements is entirely different from the truth of scientific facts. A difference between science and moral theory is that science, in its classical empirical method, aspired to be free of all values, even though that aspiration breaks down as soon as we need to make any decisions on priorities. Empirical methods avoid speculation about what is good, preferring pursuit of just the facts. By contrast, religion and all morality insist a theory of value is central, always placing facts in the context of beliefs about what is good.
That’s a good summary of a lot of our discussion to date. I might change “beyond a mere statement of subjective sentiment which others could legitimately disagree on,” to “beyond a mere statement of subjective sentiment which is arbitrary and lacks accountability to others.” The old quote about aesthetics, “There is no disputing taste” does not apply to ethics and morality.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Confusion about the fundamentally mythological nature of cultural stories about what is important promotes the cultural tendencies toward nihilism and relativism.
I agree. I think the epistemological situation of value judgements is a very complex, fraught subject, and that the nihilistic relativism so common in our discourse is, to some extent, an understandable result of this complexity. Because our only real model of epistemology is descriptive, we have trouble processing concepts like “objectively wrong” concerning values. And to some extent we can get by without clarity, but the nihilism does insidious damage.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Jung’s focus in Answer to Job is the empirical psychology of spirituality, how our beliefs about what is good and evil emerge in mythology and guide our cultural values, illustrating how knowledge of facts alone is only a part of a coherent integrated worldview.
Harry Marks wrote:
But given that Jung and others, like the entire profession of anthropology, has shown that the mythological represents to us the complexity of our relationship to life, it takes a lot of faith in human reason to suppose that we can construct a great society without reference to the forces shown by mythology.
Does mythology achieve the goal of representing complexity of relationships or only aspire to it?
It aspires to it, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. You raise a good issue, but I only meant to imply that life is the subject it aspires to reflect.
Robert Tulip wrote:
It must be the latter when our myths rest upon unconscious confusion. For example in your recent comments on predestination, the mythology of this doctrine, rather than primarily representing the complexity of relationships, serves instead to conceal and distort true relationships under a false moral veneer.
Yes, it is a really difficult mythology to parse. Note that I said, “represents to us the complexity of our relationship to life,” so that it is not only our relationship to other people that is in question. Our relationship to life encompasses how we regard relationships (e.g. instrumentally or spiritually) but it also requires that I sort out my own relationship to my aspirations and my ethics. What does it take, for example, to forgive myself while maintaining my integrity?

Predestination can be relatively benign spiritually. If a person takes a “we cannot know” attitude, and continually submits humbly to the hope of being in the elect, then the implied condemnation of much of humanity does not have to become a barrier between the person and the mercy of God. But it still, even at best, has God as a kind of monster, and the many invitations to repressed hostility are likely to overwhelm the capacity to deal spiritually with others. Wisdom can overcome some of the bad results of unconscious repression and fragmentation, but only up to a limit.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The great myth of Christianity is that all the events of the Gospels actually happened as described, justifying the miraculous supernatural cosmology of the church. This mythical thesis is the object of derisive mockery by the antithetical modern rational myth that logic and evidence are the highest values. As with any historical dialectic process of thesis and antithesis, the cultural debate produces the need for synthesis, as Jung is suggesting in Answer to Job.
Well, really, we are talking about 2000 years separating the formation of the mythology and the rational myths of modernism. The literalist struggle to answer the important questions at that (literalist) level is hopeless, and a species of unconscious fragmentation itself. Just as doctors should learn how to communicate medical knowledge without terrifying their patients (unnecessarily, anyway), so social critics should give a lot of attention to methods of stepping out of literalism and addressing the issues raised by mythology.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Jung’s psychological synthesis of science and religion emerges in his rather startling approach to the mythology surrounding the Virgin Mary.
Shortly before Jung wrote Answer to Job, the Roman Catholic Church promulgated a dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the teaching that Mary went bodily to heaven when she died.

We Protestants have our own version, known generally as Feminist Theology. Example: Mary Daly says, “If God is male, then male is God.” Like Job, we ask the prevailing theology to give a moral account of itself, and of course it cannot. So, we conclude, God is Male and Female, Father and Mother. God’s masculinity is one of the pillars of authoritarian religion, as I intend to address over on the “Donald Trump” thread.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Jung says the many criticisms of this dogma focused more on its apparent mythological nature than on what he says was “undoubtedly the most powerful motive: namely, the popular movement and the psychological need behind it... the living religious process.” Arguing that visions of Mary involve the collective unconscious at work, he says this teaching responded to “a deep longing in the masses for an intercessor and mediatrix who would at last take her place alongside the Holy Trinity and be received as the "Queen of Heaven and Bride at the heavenly court."
I am reminded of a quote from my studies of African literature. I hope I don’t get it wrong. The basic idea is that a Nigerian addresses a European and says, “You people have all that you need. What do you pray for?” On one level that is shallow theology, to be mocked. But in fact it also expresses a deep psychological function of religion: the person who prays for, e.g. a job, is forced to turn the problem over to God. Which means both that the person praying takes on an obligation to pursue it energetically, and that the person accepts that it not arrive by unethical means. It is a complex transaction, and not entirely healthy either spiritually or psychologically, but like confession the health depends partly on what alternative you compare to.

Mariolatry is pretty much all about this intercession process. Praying for relatives to get through a crisis, for family members to pull themselves together, for oneself to be able to manage a bad temper, etc. As well as for a job, a house, a favorable judgment for an accused relative, etc. Pleading for reality to be kind, gentle, and comforting. Which is not such an outrageous request, really.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The emotional comfort and social ritual provided by Mariolatry in the Catholic tradition meets a popular psychological and cultural need that cannot be rebutted simply by a focus on scientific evidence. The iconic image of the Blessed Virgin Mary emerges from her great hymn recorded in the first chapter of Luke's Gospel. This text, called the Magnificat, magnifies Mary's holy status as the mother of God through her avowed humility, scattering the proud, feeding the hungry and exalting the faithful.
The Magnificat has become a central text for Progressive Christians as well as Roman Catholics. Even Evangelicals are beginning to catch on. It rather self-consciously echoes the prayer of Hannah (I Samuel 2) when she has received the blessing of Samuel and is, as she had promised, giving him to the service of God.
Stop acting so proud and haughty!
Don’t speak with such arrogance!
For the LORD is a God who knows what you have done;
he will judge your actions.
4 The bow of the mighty is now broken,
and those who stumbled are now strong.
5 Those who were well fed are now starving,
and those who were starving are now full.
The childless woman now has seven children,
and the woman with many children wastes away.
6 The LORD gives both death and life;
he brings some down to the grave[j] but raises others up.
7 The LORD makes some poor and others rich;
he brings some down and lifts others up.
8 He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes,
placing them in seats of honor.
Luke is the Evangelist who cares for the poor. Jesus’ birth is announced to shepherds in the fields, not to wise men from the East. The Sermon on the Plain pronounces “Blessed are the poor,” not the “poor in spirit.” Luke is at pains to explain about the disciples holding all things in common in the early church (in Acts). So he has Mary, the “handmaiden of the Lord”, echo Hannah with a reversal prophecy.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Jung places Mary in continuity with the Old Testament context of Sophia, the feminine divine Wisdom, who was with God before the creation. So too, Mary's sacred status reflects the ancient Egyptian theology of the need for God to become man by means of a human mother, and the prehistoric belief that the primordial divine being is both male and female. He describes the Catholic proclamation in 1950 as psychologically significant for uniting the heavenly bride, Mary, with God as the bridegroom, reflecting the divine marriage between Christ and the church as the mythological basis for the incarnation of God in Christ.
This lack of a feminine principle in Yahwism is itself partly created from the cruel patriarchy of “civilization” which had begun looking at women as a resource for men (who dominated by violence) rather than as an equal co-creator. The roots go back before empire or, probably, even before towns. Hunter-gatherer and early agricultural society seemed to have a lot of feminine symbols (fertility symbols, apparently). The Canaanites who became most of the Hebrews seem to have had fertility goddesses, but Elijah with his purism opposed these “foreign” practices.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The duality of male and female is mirrored in myths about day and night, sun and moon, active and passive, order and nurture, heaven and earth, spirit and matter, light and dark. A whole series of such binary relationships provide metaphysical support in faith for this heavenly myth of divine marriage between the father and mother. None of these can be properly interpreted in simplistic terms. They are complementary rather than opposed, with each binary side also in some way present within its opposite, serving as mutually supporting tendencies rather than absolutes.
This raises the question what we mean by “mutually supporting tendencies.” Do we mean that a little multitasking keeps men from running into trees while hunting? Do we mean a woman sometimes has to be aggressive to protect her young? Or do we, I hope, mean that “masculine” traits work better when they do not try to split off their sensitive and cooperative side, and “feminine” traits work better when they do not try to split off their aggressive and focused side?

Jung is big on antinomies, and surely one of the strongest feature of antinomy is that one may come out at different “mix points” between the opposites that are in tension, but since both principles are important, the mix enriches each principle. Order and spontaneity, aggression and responsiveness, sensitivity and firmness, anger and resignation, all of these tensions and more lead us not so much to be forced to make awkward choices as to develop some wisdom about when one principle or the other better fits our character within a given situation.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Jung argues against the old patriarchal church teaching of woman as the source of original sin. Instead, he sees the purely male concept of God as a pathology in need of correction at the archetypal level of popular myth. He says “a longing for the exaltation of the Mother of God passes through the people. This tendency, if thought to its logical conclusion, means the desire for the birth of a saviour, a peacemaker, a mediator making peace between enemies and reconciling the world.”
Mark has no birth narrative, and John has active differentiation by Jesus, with “what have I to do with you?” early on. Whatever the forces at work in the behavior Jung analyzes, they are not determinate controls but tendencies.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Sophia, or the wisdom of God, is defined by Jung as feminine nature that existed before the Creation, as described in the hymn to wisdom at Proverbs 8: “Set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was by him, as a master workman, and I was his delight, rejoicing always before him, rejoicing in his habitable earth.”

Jung says “the reappearance of Sophia in the heavenly regions [in the person of Mary] points to a coming act of creation. She is indeed the "master workman"; she realizes God's thoughts by clothing them in material form, which is the prerogative of all feminine beings. Her coexistence with Yahweh signifies the perpetual divine marriage from which worlds are conceived and born.”
Yes Sophia, and Athena, are feminine, but I think Jung makes too much of this. The balance and calm persuasive appeal that are keys to why Sophia was seen as feminine are partly set up by contrast with a controlling, dominating, angry (but justly so) and ferociously military Yahweh. If the chief deity had been more about dispassionate judgments and big construction projects, as in Egypt, then wisdom might never have been seen as particularly feminine.

Robert Tulip wrote:
For psychology, Jung emphasises that “God is an obvious psychic and non-physical fact, i.e., a fact that can be established psychically but not physically.” So the meaning of all this language is symbolic rather than literal, providing the basis for Jung to state that he considered the dogma of the Assumption to be “the most important religious event since the Reformation.”
But psychic facts can change. Society is undergoing the greatest change in gender roles since the agricultural revolution, it seems, and maybe bigger than that one. Much about the old symbols does not resonate any more. We run through memes like a scythe runs through grain, and nothing seems to stick and take on psychological significance. Frankly, modernity has offered nothing to even remotely compare to the old stereotyped gender roles, so we just live our modern lives in tension with those.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Jung recognises the problem that such mythological dogmas remove Christianity further than ever from the sphere of worldly understanding. At the same time, he also cautions against casting cheap aspersions against all dogma. Instead, he calls for religious analysis to weigh the priority of efforts to come to terms with the world and its ideas against efforts to come to terms with God.

Imagining the place of Mary the Mother of God in the heavenly bridal-chamber involves what Jung calls “the great task of reinterpreting all the Christian traditions.” Truths which are anchored deep in the soul need the freedom of the spirit, which he notes has been a focus of Protestantism. Jung says “The dogma of the Assumption is a slap in the face for the historical and rationalistic view of the world, and would remain so for all time if one were to insist obstinately on the arguments of reason and history. This is a case, if ever there was one, where psychological understanding is needed, because the mythologem [basic theme] coming to light is so obvious that we must be deliberately blinding ourselves if we cannot see its symbolic nature and interpret it in symbolic terms.”
It is easy for such vague and untestable interpretations to miss equally obvious forces. The Catholic church has insisted on a celibate male priesthood for a very long time now. It could be that the Assumption of Mary was created entirely due to the exaggeratedly masculine power structure of the RCC, and that Protestantism did not have an equivalent need for re-balancing. Real feminist theology evolved within the Protestant framework, in which dissenting thought is not only permitted but almost automatically provided with an audience due to the importance placed on individual conscience.

Likewise most (but not all!) of the adjustments needed to accommodate doctrine to the understandings of modernity have happened within Protestantism. These were not flowery elaborations of mythological parables, but rationalist explications of the way the symbolism works. If anything they are too Apollonian, and the Dionysian reaction within the charismatic movement may be a shadow side of the same accommodation.

But either with rationalism or without it, some really good stuff is coming out of the merging of feminism with Christianity, and it is not mainly about reacting to science but rather is about reacting to injustice and domination and the abomination of those being enthroned in the faith of Jesus.

Robert Tulip wrote:
In a remarkable comment, Jung says this role of symbols in bringing opposites together means we cannot tell the difference between God and the unconscious as border-line concepts for transcendental contents and sources for an archetype of wholeness which manifests itself spontaneously in dreams, etc.

The dogma of the assumption of the blessed virgin Mary into heaven reflects this unconscious archetype of divine wholeness in the symbolic images we have of God as unconsciously related to our self-image, which in the human ideal approaches the messianic vision of incarnation of Jesus Christ. Jung says the religious need longs for wholeness. Our desires for integration therefore lay hold of the images of wholeness offered by the unconscious, which, independently of the conscious mind, rise up from the depths of our psychic nature.

The scientific perspective that sees dogma as meaningless because it conflicts with empirical evidence fails to engage with the psychic and social realities indicated by religion in terms of what the stories mean for us today.
Well, it’s pretty funny that scientists like Lawrence Krauss, who dabble in bizarre notions like “multiverses”, should go after religious thinking. As if the ability to formulate a notion in terms of scientifically validated equations somehow makes it empirical.

But that’s utterly beside the point. The wholeness that we are all longing for is an integration of our values with our material constraints. We want to know that our sense of meaning is not arbitrary or misguided, and our efforts to pursue the meaningful will make sense to succeeding generations, which is the best empirical substitute we have for “the eye of eternity.”

I think we are still waiting for a language to use in communicating about these matters. Between the language of literature, in which we see “the world in a grain of sand” and the language of philosophy, with its “teleological suspension of the ethical” there is a vast territory to be explored by sojourning souls on their quest for the Peaceable Kingdom.

It is hard to tell at this point how important integration of reason with unconscious forces will prove to be. To some extent we simply need to avoid the extremes of aggression and control that create repressed unconscious needs. Liberation may be enough for the unconscious, frankly.



Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:42 pm
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Post Re: Answer to Job
@621
The Whore of Babylon. Okay, no question Jung is right that this is a primal motif, a figure in the collective unconscious. But we know a lot more now than 60 years ago about the unconscious.

Where does this reaction against pleasure come from? And why is it also a reaction against the feminine?

Patriarchy oppresses everyone. Most directly women, because it insists that women be dependent and private and submissive and a kind of "possession" of men. But men are also twisted and pressed and prodded and, most seriously, shamed to make them fit into a system. A system of what? Of power.

Masculinity is associated with the requirements that power requires of manhood. Lack of emotional reaction. Pride at taking punches. Determination. Strategic thinking. Being a warrior. Standing with your comrades.

Interestingly enough, it is not the power of any particular persons that is being protected. It is a gigantic, pervasive, irresistible myth. In Pashtun areas, the pride of the clan is at stake in the toughness of each man (and the submission of each woman) and so the senior males are likely to be the ones who order violent enforcement of the code. I saw a presentation about Boko Haram arguing that it is an extension of an established system whereby girls are enslaved to raise the children and the yams of an older man who is accumulating multiple "family farms," to show his status. But everywhere men feel this pressure and are expected to submit to its requirements.

And part of the requirements is a certain attitude toward women. Women can be used, dominated, treated kindly, indulged, compelled or seduced, but the vulnerability of treating them as equals is not acceptable.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/30/opinion/.../men-metoo-therapy-masculinity.html
((Note: I have tried various approaches, and cannot get the link to work. Most likely I am doing something wrong, but it should not be too difficult to track down.))
The enforcement, as the NY Times piece makes plain, is mainly shame. Learned patterns within families, of shaming children, serve to perpetuate this oppressive system.

Jung rightly sees the upwelling of hostility and projections of evil in the 20th Century as a part of the pattern of power reasserting itself because it has a psychic grip on the collective unconscious. Rage and scapegoating, school shootings and jihadism, are all extensions of this shame/dominance system. When it is questioned, people tend to see its grip as inevitable - one cannot resist the need to show oneself as powerful. Just as the dueling system was once seen as inevitable, we have this feeling that it must be so. Supposed gurus like Jordan Peterson make a good living out of telling people it is inevitable.

I would not want to claim I know whether the shame and hostility system is inevitably part of our genetic makeup. But we economists tend to view a lot of behavior as a result of incentives. If hostility, aggression and dominance gets you somewhere valuable in life, there will be those who go for it. So a certain amount of the 20th century slaughter might be seen as a result of opportunity presenting itself. I tend to see this as a narrative at least as plausible as some sort of reaction to goody-goody repression.

One of the arguments for socialism is that if you remove the artificial element of male competition, society will settle down and just be peaceable. I am not sure, but I am open to trying it.

Okay, so with hostility and shame system as background, where does the mythological repression of pleasure come from? One answer is (sort of) Nietzsche's: the downtrodden feel hatred for the oppressors and blame desire for all the evil. The flesh is the source of sin. If men weren't so busy trying to inflict themselves on captive women to get progeny, we wouldn't be in this fix. Augustine seems to have seen his own illicit desires somewhat along this line, and started the talk about "original sin." A fair share of the demand for monastery vocations seems to originate with this kind of reaction. The Whore of Babylon, in this version, is a sort of military consort or camp follower, enjoying the privilege of "I don't really care, do u?"

An alternate reading, however, suggested to me partly by the psychoanalysis from the Times, is that rejecting pleasure is yet another way of extinguishing feeling and thus vulnerability and shame. Suppose (and some scholars do) that the early church had a lot of slaves in it, many of whom had been sexually exploited by their masters. Both male and female slaves. Then the slaves might be living with a burden of guilt for having enjoyed some of the sex, or at least having been excited by it. (Old trope, really.) Then rejecting desire might be a direct rejection of their own humiliation - putting it out of their minds, so to speak. Lavishing praise on virgins, and hating on the Whore of Babylon, could be that simple.

An even harder question, for me, is why rejection of the feminine got mixed up with the shame and toughness crowd. On one level it is sort of obvious, that if you want to repudiate desire then you repudiate the object of desire. But femininity, in mythological terms, is not all about desirability. Jung's context is the adoration of Mary, Jesus' mother, and its parallels to the praise for virtuous Sophia (Wisdom), co-creator with God Himself. In brief, one can take an abstract rejection of desire and still affirm Motherhood and calm, balanced Wisdom.

So maybe the rejection of femininity seen by Jung has more to do with the rejection of self that occurs in a shame-based toughness system. Vulnerability, and the engagement in raising a new generation that entails such vulnerability, may simply be too much for many men to accept. And if, added to this threat, there is a reminder of inferior (slave) status and even the experience of having been exploited sexually himself, the man may see femininity as symbolic of the totality of all the things in the world he may not engage with, may not risk caring about, and may not let himself be in the same category as.

I said we know more about the unconscious than at the time of Jung. We now understand that much of the unconscious is just "the unimportant", edited out of awareness by more importance for something else. The dangerous part seems to be "the repressed" which we suppress from awareness (with neural connections whose function is to suppress from awareness) because it evokes scary connections, including having triggered past trauma (or been associated with past trauma).

Jung wants to see the collective unconscious as being loaded with "repressed aggression." And so it may be. Surely we agree that restraining aggression is part of becoming a civilized person. But maybe the repression is mainly of rage at being shamed, and not of some primordial urge that must be indulged collectively. I remember my father sternly barking, "Quit your crying or I'll give you something to cry about." It was not, shall we say, part of building a rational system of balancing my needs against those of others.

So maybe the "wrath of God" which Jung wants to see as apocalyptic and nigh unto inevitable is just a part of a sick system of childraising, necessitated by a sick social system of violence and domination seen as necessary for economic freedom.



Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:03 am
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Post Re: Answer to Job
I gave my talk at the Canberra Jung Society on Friday, using the discussion here. I also gave a sermon at my church on Sunday, on the theme Mary Mother of Jesus, drawing from Jung. Here it is.

Sermon 8 July 2018, Mary Mother of Jesus
Kippax Uniting Church
Robert Tulip
1. Mary the mother of Jesus is celebrated in Christian tradition as the blessed virgin, the immaculate example of holy purity, care and compassion. Mary’s maternal love for Jesus is venerated in traditional faith as a symbol of obedience to God and respect for women. As we listened to Rosemary read the great prayer of Mary, the Magnificat, with its echoes of the Song of Hannah giving thanks to God for the birth of Samuel, we hear Mary’s faith in God’s power and glory, her vision of how God blesses the humble and poor, her warning against pride and arrogance, and her certainty that good is stronger than evil.
2. Yet the role of Mary is ambiguous. Her central position in the Roman Catholic Church, worshipped alongside the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, seems to recognise female spirituality and divinity. Yet this tradition has also used Mary to emphasise women’s subordination to men and the value of traditional gender roles against those who seek equality. The miraculous story of the Virgin Birth is something that people who value modern science find difficult, so the modern attitude tends to see the birth narratives in the Bible more as a myth than a historical event. The story of Mary seems quite old fashioned. It can be hard to see what she means for us today, how she relates to gender equality and the ability of women to do things that used to be only for men.
3. One of the themes I have appreciated in our Minister Karyl Davison’s preaching here at Kippax is her focus on what the Bible stories mean for us today. We can consider all of the Bible stories like parables, rich in symbol and moral vision. As Karyl has said, the meaning for us today is far more important than efforts to prove that things actually happened when we lack good evidence. In this light, the old values of motherhood and virginity celebrated by the Virgin Mary story still have a powerful meaning but are often mocked. Christians can seem counter-cultural in supporting such conservative moral themes, honouring traditional values. Yet we have all seen the many problems that arise when people lack respect for motherhood and virginity. Many young people don’t realise the relationship problems they will encounter by disregarding traditional family values, by not listening to the voices of experience. So the message of Mary, celebrating a chaste life of prayer and service, is still relevant for our world today, even though we see things differently from the systems of gender inequality of the past.
4. Today is the start of NAIDOC Week, the National Aboriginal and Islander celebration of identity and culture. This year the theme is “Because of her, we can”, recognising the role of Aboriginal women as pillars of their communities, often unsung and invisible, yet providing the care and support that is essential for their children to thrive in a world of turmoil and trauma. I often think of the story of the birth of Jesus in the light of Australia’s settlement and its impact on Aboriginal people. Jesus and Mary represent the poor and downtrodden and excluded, very similar to the experience of indigenous loss as the great empires expand their worldly power. The solidarity that Mary proclaims for the humble has a special resonance for Aboriginal people who have been humiliated and dispossessed.
5. In our hymns today we celebrate the Virgin Mary, recognising her role in the Christmas story, with the extraordinary Annunciation by the Angel Gabriel and the message that Jesus comes from the glorious kingdom of God. We will continue this theme of Mary with the hymn Tell Out My Soul, based on Mary’s Magnificat, and Behold a Rose is Growing, telling how Mary’s gentle arms enfold Jesus in the cold midnight of winter. All these beautiful comforting images speak to the moral vision of Christian faith. The icon of Mary as Queen of Heaven illustrates the imaginative visions of her glory and power. Mary wears the crown of twelve stars representing the twelve months of the year, with the healing energy from her soul streaming from her open palms, with blue sky parting the clouds as she stands upon the world and crushes the serpent under her bare feet.
6. However, as the reading we heard from the Book of Job indicates, in our fallen world a life of devotion cannot prevent the suffering that Christian faith sees as the work of Satan, the great power of evil in the world. I have been studying the book of Job in some depth, through reading a book by the famous psychologist Carl Jung, titled Answer to Job. Jung’s approach is to see the symbolic power of Christian stories as reflecting what he calls archetypes of the collective unconscious. The archetypes are moral themes with a universal resonance, messages and symbols that crystallise an eternal divine energy in a popular form. His analysis means that he reads the Bible stories in a mythological way. Mythological in this religious sense does not mean literally false, but rather that a myth is where we find meaning and purpose, a story that provides shared cultural identity and direction through deep psychological truths.
7. Today I will focus on Jung’s discussion of the Virgin Mary in Answer to Job. Jung is remarkably supportive of traditional piety with his analysis of the Virgin Mary, a belief that he sees as embodying a necessary upwelling of the unconscious feminine within a patriarchal culture. His analysis reflects the view that religious beliefs cannot be analysed or understood primarily in terms of whether the events described actually happened, but must be first seen in terms of their psychic cultural meaning.
8. Shortly before Jung wrote Answer to Job, the Roman Catholic Church promulgated a dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the teaching that Mary went bodily to heaven when she died. This teaching received widespread public criticism, due to its apparent mythological nature, but Jung says the criticism missed what he says was “undoubtedly the most powerful motive: namely, the popular movement and the psychological need behind it... the living religious process.” Arguing that visions of Mary involve the collective unconscious at work, he says this teaching of the Assumption responded to “a deep longing in the masses for an intercessor and mediatrix who would at last take her place alongside the Holy Trinity and be received as the "Queen of Heaven and Bride at the heavenly court."
9. The emotional comfort provided by Mary meets a popular psychological and cultural need that cannot be rebutted simply by a focus on scientific evidence. The image of the blessed virgin emerges from her great hymn recorded by Luke, in which her status as the mother of God is magnified in humility, scattering the proud, feeding the hungry and exalting the faithful. No mere facts can destroy the power of this image, which as Jung says, exists in the psyche rather than in evidence. His analysis of how Mary exists as an archetype in the collective unconscious emerges from the psychological need for balance. The patriarchal tradition of seeing God as Father Son and Holy Spirit has excluded the divine feminine, especially with the apparent change of gender of the Holy Spirit in the teachings of the early church from female to male.
10. Jung suggests that the celebration of Mary as Queen of Heaven helps to formalise a recognition of feminine principles. He places Mary in the Old Testament context of Sophia, the feminine divine Wisdom, who was with God before the creation. Seeing the story of Mary as having evolved from earlier religion, he notes a similarity with ancient Egyptian mythology, with its stories of God becoming man by means of a human mother, and also with prehistoric beliefs that the primordial divine being is both male and female.
11. Sophia, or the wisdom of God, is defined by Jung as feminine nature that existed before the Creation, as described in the hymn to wisdom at Proverbs 8. Sophia tells us she is “set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was by him, as a master workman, and I was his delight, rejoicing always before him, rejoicing in his habitable earth.”
12. Jung says “the reappearance of Sophia in the heavenly regions [in the person of Mary] points to a coming act of creation. She is indeed the "master workman"; she realizes God's thoughts by clothing them in material form, which is the prerogative of all feminine beings. Her coexistence with Yahweh signifies the perpetual divine marriage from which worlds are conceived and born.”
13. Jung describes the Catholic proclamation in 1950 as psychologically significant for uniting the heavenly bride, Mary, with God as the bridegroom, as the mythological basis for the incarnation of God in Christ, reflecting the marriage between Christ and the church. The story of divine marriage between the father and mother serves as an unconscious metaphysical archetype for a whole series of binary relationships that come together to form a whole. The duality of day and night, sun and moon, active and passive, order and nurture, heaven and earth, spirit and matter, light and dark have all traditionally been interpreted on a metaphysical basis. Rather than the old Christian assumption of male superiority, Jung argues in Answer to Job that these binary themes are complementary rather than opposed. Each side is also in some way present within its opposite, reflecting a mutual need to integrate in order to see the whole story.
14. Jung relates the metaphysical duality of male and female to the idea that “Heaven is masculine, but the earth is feminine. Therefore God has his throne in heaven, while Wisdom has hers on the earth.” The great vision of the union of heaven and earth appears in the story of the new Jerusalem coming down like a bridegroom. In our visions of God, we need an equal balance between the principles of order and nurture. These principles can be seen as order reflecting the eternal glory of God the Father in heaven, with nurture seen in the humble care of Mary, seeing Christ among the least of the world.
15. Jung argues against the old patriarchal church teaching of woman as the source of original sin. His analysis of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is that the purely male concept of God embodied in the traditional teaching of the trinity was a pathology in need of correction at the archetypal level of popular myth, but such cultural change is an unconscious process that only happens very slowly as we evolve toward gender equality. Jung says “a longing for the exaltation of the Mother of God passes through the people. This tendency, if thought to its logical conclusion, means the desire for the birth of a saviour, a peacemaker, a mediator making peace between enemies and reconciling the world.”
16. Crucially, Jung says “arguments based on historical criticism will never do justice to the new dogma; on the contrary, they are lamentably wide of the mark, failing to understand that God has eternally wanted to become human. [Such arguments] ignore the continued operation of the Holy Spirit, … the tremendous archetypal happenings in the psyche of the individual and the masses, and the symbols which … compensate the truly apocalyptic world situation today.” This sense of apocalyptic danger after the turmoil of the Second World War continues today, including with the failure of the world to address the problem of global warming. The solution to such great problems has to be found in spiritual transformation, to enable a genuine public dialogue about how to step back from apocalyptic risks.
17. The primary framework for psychology in analysis of religion, including the stories around Mary, is therefore the social impact of Christian teachings, what they mean for our world today at a symbolic level, rather than their literal historical evidence. The Holy Spirit works in the hidden places of the soul, revealing the divine drama through the operation of unconscious archetypal mythology. Calling such statements mythological does not in the slightest mean that psychic happenings vanish into thin air by being explained.
18. For psychology, Jung emphasises that “God is an obvious psychic and non-physical fact, i.e., a fact that can be established psychically but not physically.” The meaning of religious language is symbolic rather than literal, providing the basis for Jung to state that he considered the dogma of the Assumption to be “the most important religious event since the Reformation.” Those who find this a stumbling block are prey to what Jung calls “the unpsychological mind.” To the question how such an assertion as the bodily reception of the Virgin into heaven can be put forward as worthy of belief, Jung’s answer combines observation of the evolution of faith with traditional views. We observe the psychic phenomenon of belief, and “it does not matter at all that a physically impossible fact is asserted, because all religious assertions are physical impossibilities… religious statements without exception have to do with the reality of the psyche and not with the reality of physics.”
19. The "heavenly bridegroom" must now “have a bride with equal rights” or Christianity is “nothing but a man's religion which allows no metaphysical representation of woman… , anchored in the figure of a "divine" woman… The feminine, like the masculine, demands an equally personal representation.”
20. Jung recognises the problem that such mythological dogmas separate Christianity from the sphere of worldly understanding. His response is to caution against casting cheap aspersions against the teachings of faith. Instead we should weigh coming to terms with the world against efforts to come to terms with God, considering teachings in terms of their impact on our values.
21. Imagining the place of Mary the Mother of God in the heavenly bridal-chamber involves what Jung calls “the great task of reinterpreting all the Christian traditions.” Truths which are anchored deep in the soul need the freedom of the spirit, which he notes has been a focus of Protestantism. Jung says “The dogma of the Assumption is a slap in the face for the historical and rationalistic view of the world, and would remain so for all time if one were to insist obstinately on the arguments of reason and history. This is a case, if ever there was one, where psychological understanding is needed, because the core theme coming to light is so obvious that we must be deliberately blinding ourselves if we cannot see its symbolic nature and interpret it in symbolic terms.”
22. The myth of a heavenly marriage links to the psychology of how each of us becomes an individual as the child grows to adulthood. Jung sees this process as dependent on symbols which make the union of opposites possible, symbolised by the divine child in the holy family.
23. The dogma of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven reflects this unconscious archetype of divine wholeness in the symbolic images we have of God as unconsciously related to our self-image. In the Christian ideal, this vision of wholeness appears in the messianic incarnation of Jesus Christ. Jung says we long for wholeness, and therefore lay hold of images of wholeness offered by the unconscious. Such images are independent of the conscious mind, rising up from the depths of our psychic nature. Rather than the scientific secular perspective that sees the dogma as meaningless because it lacks empirical evidence, Jung calls on us to engage with the psychic and social realities indicated by religion in terms of what the stories mean for us today. Even in the light of science, the power of religious stories should remain central to our ethical concerns, our hopes in faith and love to create a new heaven and a new earth, reconnecting our fallen world to the eternal truths of God. The story of the Virgin Mary has an enduring place in our world today.


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Harry Marks
Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:03 pm
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Post Re: Answer to Job
Well done, sir!

Just to add a small comment, I ran across an interesting quote this week. A writer, Kathleen Norris, said in "Amazing Grace," that a myth is "a story that you know must be true the first time you hear it". She can be somewhat elliptical, but the poetry of that formulation is impressive.



Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:46 pm
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Post Re: Answer to Job
The Canberra Jung Society has kindly uploaded the draft essay I used for my talk on Commentary on Answer to Job, together with the podcasts, recorded on my telephone, of the talk and of the question and answer session.

The link is on the Society's home page http://www.canberrajungsociety.org.au/ with direct link here.

The diagram mentioned in the essay is at post165705.html#p165705

I will revise this rather aphoristic paper for publication in the Canberra Jung Society Journal.

This is largely drawn from my conversation here with Harry Marks, so thanks again to Harry. It provides a more summarised version of most of the comments I have made here.


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