Sum it up for me

Aion – Class 21 by Edward Edinger


Table of Contents


This is Aion class number 21, our assignment covers paragraphs 347 through 367, and we are beginning on chapter 14, entitled “The Structure and Dynamics of the Self”.

I have 7 themes I hope to get to tonight:

  1. Jung’s method
  2. The Monoimus text
  3. The Upanishads
  4. The Reciprocality Principle
  5. The Uncertainty Principle
  6. The Double-Moses Quaternio
  7. Handwriting

Jung’s method

In the early part of this chapter Jung summarizes the various symbols of the Self that have been previously discussed, and this provides an occasion for me to outline or summarize Jung’s methodology in this investigation, which I think is worth a few remarks to be sure that it’s completely understood.

As you remember he subtitles Aion “Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self”. That’s a very scientific subtitle. I want to remind you of Jung’s strict scientific, empirical method as it’s demonstrated in this work.

I think you all agree that these recent assignments had been difficult. They take hard work to understand and one might be tempted to ask is there not an easier way to present the material than the way Jung did it. But the fact is, there is very good reason for the way it’s being presented. Since he is being strictly empirical, that means that he is presenting us with a strictly objective study of certain imagery of the psyche, specifically the archetypal psyche and the archetype of the Self.

In order to investigate the depth-psyche, which is what he is doing here, he has to deal with its manifestations the same way that an archeologist deals with the manifestations of a lost civilization that’s buried in the earth. He has to dig it out and then present, and order, and classify the artifacts, the data, that he digs, that he reaches by his digging.

Now this digging can be done in 2 places when one’s studying the psyche.

  • You can dig in the individual psyche and in that case we examine dreams, and fantasies, and unconscious symptoms, and the phenomena that develop in the course of a depth-analysis. That’s individual archeology so to speak.
  • The other way one can dig, is one can dig in the collective psyche. In that case the archeological data are found in religions, myths, fairy tales, such materials that which correspond to collective dreams and fantasies, but they are manifestations of the collective psyche.

In his study of alchemy and Gnosticism Jung is doing the latter. He is excavating the collective psyche, so to speak. He’s digging below its surface phenomena. It’s hard work and it does not make for smooth going, but it’s the only way to explore the psyche if one is going to do it with strict objectivity and not just impose theoretical preconceptions on it in advance. You see, if you do that, then you impose a meaning on the data in advance and that makes it understandable and easy to read, but, it’s meaning achieved a priori to the finding of the data, you see, and that’s not appropriate empirical investigative procedure. To be proper, one must get the data first and then draw one’s conclusions from the data, rather the the other way around.

Now, the gnostics are particularly interesting in this respect also, as I mentioned last time, because they illustrate the associational amplifying process of the Unconscious. They take the two great roots of the western psyche, namely Greek mythology and Hebrew-christian scriptures, and assimilate both those root sources to their own doctrine. The way they did it is illustrated in their works which Jung summarizes. As I mentioned last time their method of assimilating traditional material follows the same kind of pattern as that of depth-psychology, because that associational, amplificational method is the way the psyche functions.

Jung makes an important statement on this matter in volume 13, in paragraph 352, in the essay on the philosophical tree, Jung is talking about the importance of comparative research into symbols, which is just what Aion is. In talking about that he makes the following comment, and I quote – this is an important statement, an important methodological statement – this is in paragraph 353:

[353] In consequence of the collective nature of the image it is often impossible to establish its full range of meaning from the associative material of a single individual. But since it is of importance to do this for practical therapeutic purposes, the necessity of comparative research into symbols for medical psychology becomes evident on these grounds also.4 For this purpose the investigator must turn back to those periods in human history when symbol formation still went on unimpeded, that is, when there was still no epistemological criticism of the formation of images, and when, in consequence, facts that in themselves were unknown could be expressed in definite visual form. The period of this kind closest to us is that of medieval natural philosophy, which reached its zenith in the seventeenth century, and in the eighteenth century gradually left the field to science. It attained its most significant development in alchemy and Hermetic philosophy. Here, as in a reservoir, were collected the most enduring and the most important mythologems of the ancient world. It is significant that Hermetic philosophy was, in the main, practised by physicians.

Collected Works Volume 13 – Alchemical Studies by Carl Jung

One could add, that a more remote example of this same material is found in the fantasy-systems of the gnostics.

The crucial statement here is: “when there was still no epistemological criticism of the formation of images”. That means it was a time of a naive attitude which did not distinguished clearly between subject and object, or between inner and outer reality. You see, as soon as some epistemological sophistication – that just means an ability to criticize the process of knowing – then he no longer naively projects his inner fantasy imagery into the outer world, because he’s got some inkling that he is revealing himself when he does that, and he becomes shy or self-critical about behaving that way. Of course we all know there are plenty of people still around how have very little epistemological criticism.

But Jung is talking about the cultural development of the race, and the race first began to learn epistemological criticism along about the 16th century. The philosophical ones that brought that to the fore were Locke, Barkley and Hume.

Anyway I urge you to reflect on that particular passage because if you don’t understand Jung’s methodology, then you’ve missed the whole point. Then you won’t understand why are all of his later books are written the way they are. You’ll think he’s just being obscurantist. You won’t understand.

The Monoimus text

OK. Theme number 2 is the Monoimus-text. Last week’s assignment had a quotation from Monoimus concerning the “jot” and the “dot”, and this week beings with another quote from Monoimus. He was a 2nd century Gnostic whose life if completely unknown. All we know about him is a few scattered quotations. We do know that he was named “the Arab”. Here’s a quote that Jung repeats from Hippolytus, which is quite psychologically remarkable, coming from the 2nd century

[347] … “Seek him from out thyself, and learn who it is that taketh possession of everything in thee, saying: my god, my spirit, my understanding, my soul, my body; and learn whence is sorrow and joy, and love and hate, and waking though one would not, and sleeping though one would not, and getting angry though one would not, and falling in love though one would not. And if thou shouldst closely investigate these things, thou wilt find Him in thyself, the One and the Many, like to that little point [κεραία], for it is in thee that he hath his origin and his deliverance.”

Collected Works 9, Part 2 – Aion by Carl Jung

This is an amazing text for the 2nd century. A modern psychologist couldn’t put it more succinctly. You see, it tells us that we should make a distinction, discriminate between our own will and the Unconscious. The ability to make that distinction is the crucial discovery in the process of discovering and encounter with the Self. We first have to realize that we are not one, but two, that there is another inside. As that dawns on us, we discover at the same time that much of what we do in our daily life is not our choice or will at all. We discover ourselves doing things that hadn’t been intended, not to mention overt slips, and accidents, and very crude demonstrations of challenges to our inclination. As we become more and more aware of that twoness, the more we realize the reality of the Self, and that’s what Monoimus is stating in this passage.

This text then takes Jung to the Upanishads.

The Upanishads

As you saw this, one cannot help being reminded of the Upanishads. He gives a couple of quotes in paragraphs 347 and 349. The Upanishads are something that you should all have at least a nodding acquaintance with.

They are ancient Hindu scriptures, the word literally means “sitting near devotedly”, which means it’s a setting whereby one receives a secret teaching from a teacher in which divine knowledge is communicated.

The Upanishads were written in Sanskrit and were unavailable to anyone who did not know that language until 1650 AD, give or take a few years, that’s a close enough date to remember it by, at which time they were translated into Persian, so if you knew Persian, you could then read the Upanishads.

They did not reach western Europe until 1800, 1801 to be exact, when the Persian translation of the Upanishads was translated into Latin.

I spell out these details because they are very important. Their influence very quickly manifested itself. The most notable person who was influenced by it was Schopenhauer, whose whole philosophy is a kind of westernized, one-sided elaboration of the Upanishads. Another person that was much influenced by them was Emerson. Nietzsche was once once much influenced by them and so was Jung, both directly and through Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. He took the term “Self” from the Upanishads. He gives a couple of quotes from them. I want to give you those same quotes in slightly larger form, because it makes them more visible, gives them more impact, if you hear the larger version.

"At whose behest does the mind think? Who bids the body live? Who makes the tongue speak? Who is that effulgent Being that directs the eye to form and color and the ear to sound?"

"The Self is ear of the ear, mind of the mind, speech of speech. He is also breath of the breath, and eye of the eye."

"Him the eye does not see, nor the tongue express, nor the mind grasp. Him we neither know nor are able to teach."

"Different is he from the known, and different is he from the unknown."

"That which is not comprehended by the mind but by which the mind comprehends–know that to be Brahman."

"That which is not seen by the eye but by which the eye sees–know that to be Brahman."

"That which is not heard by the ear but by which the ear hears–know that to be Brahman."

Et cetera. And in another place:

"He who dwells in all beings but is separate from all beings, whom no being knows, whose body all beings are, and who controls all beings from within–he, the Self, is the inner Ruler, the Immortal."

Now those words were written at least no earlier then 500 BC. That goes to show you how the east, notably India, in psychological sophistication is far beyond the west.

The Reciprocality Principle

The reference to this is found in paragraph [355], where Jung speaks of the Self as being true complexio oppositorum. Paragraph [355]:

“[355] The self is a true “complexio oppositorum,” though this does not mean that it is anything like as contradictory in itself. It is quite possible that the seeming paradox is nothing but a reflection of the enantiodromian changes of the conscious attitude…”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Paragraph 355 – Carl Jung

“[355] The same is true of the unconscious in general, for its frightening figures may be called forth by the fear which the conscious mind has of the unconscious. The importance of consciousness should not be underrated; hence it is advisable to relate the contradictory manifestations of the unconscious causally to the conscious attitude, at least in some degree.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Paragraph 355 – Carl Jung

Now Jung is here referring to what I wanna underline by baptizing it a fancy name. It’s what I call the reciprocality principle and I think it’s important enough to warrant such a name because if you really understand how this works, it’s very valuable.

I’m using the word reciprocal as it’s used in mathematics. The reciprocality principle states that the Unconscious responds inversely to the conscious Ego. That’s the reciprocality principle and what I mean by that is this: we know that every number in mathematics has a reciprocal. The reciprocal of 5 is 1/5. To find the reciprocal one has to turn a whole number into a fraction, or into a fractional notation at least, in another words has to turn it into a double term. The reciprocal of 2/3 is 3/2.

See the idea is that reciprocality can exist only when 2 terms exist, so that a whole number has to be turned into a fractional expression. When one multiplies two reciprocals the product is always 1. That’s psychologically significant, I think. Now this is all relevant to the Ego’s relation to the Unconscious. The Ego’s relation to any particular psychological quality or content can be expressed in a fractional term and then according to the reciprocality principle the unconscious manifestation of that quality will be an inverse ratio or a reciprocal of the conscious manifestation.

Let me give you an example of that. I’ve put an example on the board. Let’s say we’re dealing with the quality of aggressivity on a scale of 10. So at 0, one would be total victim, total, quivering, knee-shaking, fleeing victim. At the other end 10, would be total aggressor, chasing, attacking, totally. Well, let’s say that our particular Ego is very much in the victim realm, let’s say he’s got an aggressivity fraction of 2/10. That means he’s very much a victim, he’s only got 2 out of 10 of an aggressive tendency. By this principle then, the Unconscious will have an aggressivity fraction of 10/2, in other words, if the Ego is very much identified with being a victim the Unconscious will have the aggressor constellated in it and will start chasing the Ego and the Ego, of course, will be running. Now we all know in observing animals that if one animal runs, if a cat runs, a dog will chase it. If the cat stops running and turns around, the dog suddenly stops and it might start running, you see. That illustrates how the Unconscious can work.

And this works not only within the individual, it also works with the individual’s relation to his environment. If I behave in very much of a weak, fearful victim role, here, at my desk, it won’t be long before this whole crowd will be after me, I can promise you.

That’s the way the Unconscious works and this is the way the transference and the counter-transference work too. So that if you have a patient who is very much identified with the victim, no matter how mild mannered and gentle you may think you are, if you’re alert, you’ll catch yourself bullying him or her, because that’s what’s constellated. And it works in all sorts of other qualities too. You see, characteristically a patient comes to see us because the patient is feeling sick, weak, or wounded, and then that constellates in the analyst the contrasting powers of health, power, healing, and as long as those things just remain carried by the analyst they don’t help the patient at all and the task is how to reverse those reciprocal fractions, to know how to hand over what’s been constellated in the analyst and how to hand it back to the patient. That’s not so easy to do. It’s easier said than done. But it’s a big help at least to know what’s going on and I think the reciprocality principle is helpful there.

I use that term rather than calling it reciprocity, because reciprocity carries ordinarily a different meaning: mutuality. It’s a different kind meaning for us.

The Uncertainty Principle

This is also referred to in paragraph [355], on page 226, top of the page, where Jung says:

“[355] Between the conscious and the unconscious there is a kind of “uncertainty relationship,” because the observer is inseparable from the observed and always disturbs it by the act of observation. In other words, exact observation of the unconscious prejudices observation of the conscious and vice versa.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Paragraph 355 – Carl Jung

Now, Jung puts this term “uncertainty relationship” in quotes indicating he has a particular reference there and what he is referring to is the uncertainty principle nuclear physics that was first formulated by Werner Heisenberg. This principle stated that the position and velocity of a subatomic object cannot both be measured exactly at the same time, even in theory. That’s because any attempt to measure precisely the velocity of a subatomic particle, such as an electron, knocks it about in an unpredictable way so that if its velocity is to be measured, than the very act of observing it upsets its position. Or if its position is to be measured than that alters its velocity.

The idea is that the very act of observation of subatomic particles alters their condition, so that exact, objective readings are impossible. It means than the observer is drawn into the data he is observing and influences it in a unavoidable way.

Now precisely the same state of affairs pertains in our observation of the Unconscious. You see the Unconscious is altered by the process of observation. That means that there is no such thing as an absolutely objective piece of psychological data from the Unconscious, because in order to have observed that data, you as the observer had to have seen it, you had to have touched it and you’ve brought it back, and in the process of doing all that, you’ve put your fingerprints on it.
The Unconscious is altered by the process of observation, but the reverse is also true. Both the observer and the observed influence each other. Not only does the Ego influence the Unconscious when it observes it, but also the Unconscious, the Self, modifies the Ego by observing it, because the observation process is a two-way street. That may not be immediately evident to you, but it can be demonstrated with a lot of psychological data I assure you. There is an “Eye of God” aspect to the Self which observes the Ego just as the Ego when it reaches a certain level can observe the Self. So that’s what’s Jung is referring to in that reference to the “uncertainty relationship”.

The Double-Moses Quaternio

Number 6, the doubling of the Moses-Quaternity.

Jung now returns to the Moses-Quaternio that had been brought up earlier and elaborates it. He reaches the conclusion that just as there is an upper and a lower Adam in that triad that created the Moses-Quaternio, so there must be an upper and a lower quaternio of the 4 figures in the Moses-family. He proceeds to chart it the way I’ve put it on the blackboard. Now, it’s important that you get this, because he’s gonna build on further on this structure, he’s not through with this. It’s going to be built up more, so let me just remind you of what we are dealing with here.

We’re dealing first with a higher-Adam, an anthropos-figure, that splits into 4, and those 4 figures then synthesize or unite into a lower-Adam, and those 4 figures of the quaternio are: Moses, Jethro, Miriam, and Zipporah. Moses – you remember – kills the slave-driver and flees to Midian. He meets Jethro, his future father-in-law, and he marries Jethro’s daughter Zipporah. The 4th figure is Miriam, who is Moses’ sister. She was the one who took him in the ark of bulrushes and put him in the stream for the pharaoh’s daughter to find him.

Miriam, Moses’ sister was called in one scripture a prophetess, a seer, so, that aspect of her characterizes the higher-Miriam. But, in another place, she spoke against Moses. She was angry with Moses because he married Zipporah, and she incurred Yahweh’s wrath and he turned her white as a leper, until he relented. So, the angry, vengeful Miriam is the lower-Miriam.

Zipporah was the daughter of Jethro who was the priest of Midian – and I’m trying to recall – her negative aspect was that in one text she’s called the black Ethiopian. So, that shadow quality makes her the negative-Zipporah and therefore relegated to the lower-quaternio, but in other scriptures she is the wise Zipporah, and there she will occupy the upper-quaternio as the upper-Zipporah.

Then, the same doubleness applies to Jethro. He is a priest of Midian and therefore has the wisdom that accompanies priestly knowledge, but on the other hand, he was outside the traditional Israelite-realm and by being that pagan outsider, in that aspect he is the lower-Jethro.

And then the same thing applies to the 2 Moses, the higher-Moses or the lower or carnal Moses.

What you can understand about this image so far, what’s called the lower-Adam in the picture, that’s us, that’s the Ego. That’s the ordinary, empirical Ego. So the Ego occupies that mid-position so to speak. If it looks in one direction, it encounters a quaternity of an upper nature, of a light, bright, spiritual quality. If it looks in the opposite direction it encounters a dark, shadow, dubious quaternity, that if he looks all the way through it, he can even see the Serpent.

That’s the empirical aspect of this chart as it manifests itself, so far, but we are not through yet, because it’s going to get more complex than this.

My time is up now, so I’m going to leave item number 7 for next time.

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