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6 Where Jung Draws the Line in His Acceptance of Patañjali’s Yoga In the formation of his psychological theory, Carl Jung was for a time strongly influenced by Patañjali’s Yoga Psychology.1 The period of influence was mainly in the 1920s, but by the end of the 1930s Jung’s main attention turned back to Western thought.2 This is especially evident if the cognitive aspects of his psychology, for example , the processes of memory, perception, and thinking are analyzed in relation to the corresponding concepts found in Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras. Such an analysis shows that at least one of the reasons Jung could not completely identify with Patañjali’s Yoga was the lack of distinction between philosophy and psychology that seems to typify much Eastern thought. In line with other modern Western thinkers, Jung claimed to follow the scientific method of keeping a clear distinction between the description of cognitive processes, on the one hand, and truth claims attesting to the objective reality of such cognitions, on the other. Any reductionistic collapsing of philosophy into psychology or vice versa is the cause of what Jung critically calls Eastern intuition over-reaching itself. For Jung, this over-reaching of yoga is especially evident in the widespread Eastern notion that the individual ego can be completely transcended and some form of universal consciousness achieved.3 In Jung’s eyes, this was nothing more than the psychological projection of an idea which had no foundation in human experience. Jung viewed the East as making such errors because it had not yet reached the high level of self-awareness achieved in the modern Western development of scientific thought. The Indian, says Jung, is still pre-Kantian. In India, therefore, “there is no psychology in our sense of the word. India is ‘pre-psychological.’”4 In a 1958 letter Jung wrote, “There is no psychology worthy of this name in East Asia, but instead a philosophy consisting entirely of what we would call psychology.”5 In Jung’s view, Eastern psychology was nothing more than a kind of scholastic description of psychic processes with no necessary connection to empirical facts. Because of this lack of empirical method, said Jung, Eastern thought suffers “a curious detachment from the 61 world of concrete particulars we call reality.”6 As evidence for this contention, Jung reported that Easterners, while gifted in seeing things in their totality, had great difficulty in perceiving the whole in terms of its empirical parts. For example, of his conversation with the Chinese scholar Hu Shih, Jung said, “. . . it was as though I had asked him to bring me a blade of grass, and each time he had dragged along a whole meadow for me. . . . Each time I had to extract the detail for him from an irreducible totality.”7 The East, said Jung, still views reality metaphysically in terms of the whole, and describes the whole in cognitive projections which often have little to do with the nominalistic concepts of the empiricist. In a 1955 letter to a theological student, Jung makes clear that whereas modern psychology (including Freud’s Psychoanalysis and Jung’s own Analytical Psychology) has an empirical foundation, the older psychologies of the East and the medieval West are founded on metaphysical concepts which often have little relation to empirical facts. It is clear that Jung views his own work as scientific while that of the older psychologies is of a quite different order—“opinion rather than fact.”8 As a champion of modern scientific psychology, Jung was not unaware of its hazards . Because of its focus on the minutiae of empirical evidence, modern psychology often lost sight of the larger whole. Emphasis upon the holistic or collective nature of the unconscious was seen by Jung as one of his major contributions in helping to restore the balance between the part and the whole in modern Western thought. Jung’s main empirical evidence in this regard was the dreams and drawings produced by himself and his patients. He appealed to the Eastern stress on the wholeness or collective nature of reality as providing not additional empirical evidence, but rather historical and literary parallels to his scientific discoveries. It is evident in the above discussion that the underlying distinction which determines where Jung draws the line in his acceptance of Yoga comes from his holding firmly to modern Western scientific method.9 The essential basis of the modern scientific approach is that...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780791487914
Related ISBN
9780791454992
MARC Record
OCLC
61367546
Pages
125
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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