Academic journal article PSYART

Neutralizing the Functions in Recognizing the Self: A Jungian Perspective on the "Yoga" of Emile in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Emile

Academic journal article PSYART

Neutralizing the Functions in Recognizing the Self: A Jungian Perspective on the "Yoga" of Emile in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Emile

Article excerpt

abstract

Rousseau's exploration of human development in Emile presents an approach to human being that can be compared to Jung's description of typologies and processes of individuation he isolated in analytical practices. We can address this perspective in terms of the spiritual science of yoga. Because of Rousseau's recognition of the balance of nature, the natural man he describes in the second Discourse does not feel divided since his ego is not overdeveloped compared to his inner self, which Jung would call the self of combined, multiple conscious and non-conscious polarities. When Rousseau criticizes natural man's development, it is not humanness that he deplores but the shifting of balance from amour de soi to amour-propre. In Emile Rousseau presents an attempt to balance amour de soi in Emile. The idea of consciousness he presents compares to yogic descriptions of consciousness, where the balanced constituents of mind, ego, and intelligence constitute consciousness.

In his book Psychological Types, depth psychologist Carl Jung attempts to identify the psychic functions and attitude types that result from mechanisms triggered by external circumstances and by dispositions within the individual.[1] While recognizing that grouping people into types is "superficial and general [in] nature" (6) and that the results of such an approach "will always be a product of the subjective psychological constellation of the investigator" (9), Jung strives to invent and define terms that will help identify concepts in such a way that the observer will not see too subjectively. The ultimate result of this process will be Jung's famous quaternary system where two attitudes (introversion/extraversion) and four function types (thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting) measure the self-regulatory nature of the psyche. But in order to reach this system of definitions, Jung endeavors to establish an archaeology of the functions and character types via a study of the evolution of western philosophical thought and political systems, concentrating on the oppositions that existed within these systems, especially as regards Christianity. As he puts it, "the works of the ancients are full of psychology, [but] only little of it can be described as objective psychology" (8).

A crucial component in Jung's attempt to establish his theory is his contention that if we "go right back to primitive psychology, we find absolutely no trace of the concept of an individual. Instead of individuality, we find only collective relationships or what Lévy-Bruhl calls participation mystique" (10). The collective attitude hinders the recognition and evaluation of a psychology different from the subject's, because the collectively oriented mind is quite incapable of thinking and feeling outside of its own projections. In other words, what we understand by the word "individual" is a relatively recent development in the history of the human mind and of human culture. Thus in discussing the 18th century and the early Romantic period, Jung concentrates on the development of the superior and inferior functions, by which particular functions come to dominate the ego, casting their opposing functions into the "inferior" position of assimilation into the personal unconscious, so that for example a thinking introvert will have an unconscious, "shadow" side as a feeling extrovert. To explain these developments, Jung chooses to analyze Friedrich Schiller's Letters on the Education of Man and to make encompassing statements regarding Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Emile. In other words, for Jung Schiller and Rousseau typify the Age of Reason and its immediate aftermath, demonstrating humanity's loss of a sense of unity and "individuality" as a result of the development of an overpowering collective culture that arises at the expense of nature. Jung thus identifies Schiller and Rousseau as exemplars of a philosophical argument that centers on the problematic of human origins and the loss of man's initial integrity-perhaps that sense of "wholeness" identified by participation mystique. …

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