Is Jung Existential or Not? Reflections on Temporality and Everydayness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article contrasts Jung’s theoretical position with existential philosophy, mainly Martin Heidegger’s ideas. The intent of Heidegger’s magnum opus, Being and Time, was to discover the primal ground, the arché, of ideas. In his eyes, that quest failed, resulting in a turn toward a more hermeneutic approach, aimed toward disclosing the Being of beings. This endeavor, for Heidegger, is never final. A basic precept of existential thought is that “existence precedes essence.” An ultimate lack of substantive structure entails a sense of contingency and openness, providing the ground of human freedom. This diverges sharply from Jung’s theoretical writings, because he generally held to a belief in archetypes: inherent, underlying structures or ideal forms related to Platonic ideas. Moreover, temporality and awareness of death are at the core of most existential thought. This involves an openness to the vicissitudes of time, with a consequent existential anxiety. In contrast, throughout most of his life, Jung privileged an “eternal” or “timeless” aspect of existence, presumably manifested in preexisting archetypal structures, while devaluing the “personal unconscious.” For Jung, the personal unconscious is the realm of the everyday time of our existence, mainly serving to set the stage for the emergence of a timeless archetypal realm. The author, a Jungian analyst, proposes that Jung’s view of temporality seems diametrically opposed to existential theory and practice, which focus on the “time of our lives,” as beings who inevitably must die.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Humanistic Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • analytical psychology
  • archetype
  • collective unconscious
  • existential therapy
  • existentialism
  • Heidegger
  • Jung
  • Jungian analysis
  • personal unconscious
  • phenomenology
  • temporality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science

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