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Salzburger Gesellschaft für Tiefenpsychologie - C. G. Jung-Institut


ONTOGENY = PHYLOGENY?

A Fundamental Critique of Erich Neumann's Analytical Psychology

WOLFGANG GIEGERICH


Electronic version published here with kind permission from Spring Publications, Dallas, TX, USA and Wolfgang Giegerich
Original paper version: SPRING - An Annual of Archetypal Psychology and Jungian Thought, 1975, pp 110-129

Among analytical psychologists and even among representatives of other fields, Erich Neumann's work enjoys the highest recognition. This is not only attested to by phrases referring to him such as, "the one truly creative spirit among the second Generation of Jung's pupils, the only one who seemed destined to build on Jung's work and to continue it"[1], but even much more so by the fact that for many Jungians his terminology and orientation seem to have become second nature. Neumann indeed presented us with a grand and captivating scheme of psychic development, both of mankind and of the individual, a scheme that promised to give Analytical Psychology a firm footing and a systematic structure, and at the same time to serve as a tool by means of which one could hope to make comprehensible the entire range of psychic phenomena in the group as well as in the individual, in past and present, in the healthy and the ill. But as about 25 years have passed since his main work first appeared and we can regard it from some distance, the question of whether Neumann really based his Analytical Psychology on Jung's work, and above all of whether his entire outlook withstands a critical examination, forces itself upon us. 

We start with our astonishment at the fact that in The Origins and History of Consciousness, a work clearly conceived as a historical study, Neumann hardly ever refers to dated or dateable events. Of course, in a history of first beginnings we cannot expect datings precise to the very year, but without some organization of the material presented in terms of time, even if very approximate, a "history" is inconceivable, even a depth-psychological one. Jung, e.g., in Answer to Job based his 'Entwicklungsgeschichte' on clearly historical events (the composition of certain biblical passages, the declaration of dogmas, etc.). Neumann, by contrast, bases his history exclusively on mythical motifs and shows himself to be completely oblivious to the historical when, instead of asking when and where certain myths appeared for the first time, and by which other myths they were preceded and followed, he compiles examples for a mytheme from various ages and illustrates, e.g., the idea of "upper" castration with the Oedipus myth as well as with a modern drama (Barlach) - not by way of amplification in order to elucidate the meaning of a motif, which would be legitimate, but in order to establish stages in the development of consciousness. We cannot help but ascertain a fundamental contradiction between Neumann's declared historiographic intention and what he actually offers; whatever Neumann s work may be, it is not a history. 

But perhaps Neumann was mistaken about his own intention and therefore also inadvertently misled his readers in his title and introductory comments. Perhaps he was not concerned with history but, in actuality, had an entirely different aim that he succeeded in carrying out. When Neumann speaks of mythological (not cultural-historical) stages of development and stresses that "stage» here does not refer to any historical epoch"[2], we might suppose that his actual intention was the representation of "stages" within myth itself (as opposed to cultural history), of a sequence of mythical images in the sense of a background process to be located somehow 'above' history. Then it would have to be shown that one motif presupposes another and is itself the basis for still others, that is to say that there is a genetic law inherent in myth

But here, too, we are deserted. Neumann does not show that the creation myth precedes the hero myth or that the latter is followed by the transformation myth. just as, historically speaking, any mytheme may occur at any time, so myth itself does not contain any evidence for a genetic sequence of the individual myths. Every myth, by its very nature, has its origin and meaning in itself and is therefore a completely independent tale. We now can see what Neumann does: he does not present stages of myth itself, but rather his own organization of the available mythological material, a genetic schema not derived from myth but preconceived and projected upon it. Though logical and in itself satisfactory, this schema is nonetheless 'fictitious', a speculative construction without empirical foundation. 

We have seen that the book in question is not an Ursprungsgeschichte of consciousness. But if it attempts to organize the multitude of mythological motifs, it follows that we must also doubt whether it is a history of consciousness. For mythological or archetypal images by definition belong to the so-called collective unconscious. Consequently, the emergence of the hero, as an archetypal motif, does not represent the rise of ego-consciousness out of the "collective unconscious", or the origin of consciousness in general, but an event in the collective unconscious. As long as we separate the collective unconscious and consciousness as two systems in opposition to each other, a study of mythemes naturally cannot inform us about the origin and history of ego-consciousness. indeed, we cannot derive consciousness at all out of unconsciousness, but must conceive of it as a principle in its own right. Mythology can inform us only about the various patterns of consciousness

It follows that the student of the development of consciousness must turn to the realm of empirical history and not to that of myth and archetypes. Where the Ursprungsgeschichte of consciousness ceases to be a history it also no longer treats of actual consciousness. Neumann seems to have felt this. Why else the emphasis on history? Although de facto he only moves in the realm of myths, he after all also aims for an understanding of cultural history in his work. Neumann's systematization of mythological images could only serve this purpose if the speculative pattern of mythological stages could be shown to correspond to an actual (historical) cultural development in the sense of phylogeny. 

Is there in cultural history a "regular sequence" [3] of developmental stages of consciousness? Did history necessarily and unambiguously lead from matriarchy to patriarchy, from the uroboros via the separation of the primal parents and the struggle of the hero to the transformation? This question can be answered in the negative with some degree of certainty. For how then would it be possible to find, even among primitives (among whom according to Neumann "the earliest stages of man's psychology"[4] prevail), full-fledged hero-myths, that is to say myths presupposing a considerably developed consciousness, according to the System in question? If early and primitive cultures were indeed to be understood primarily in terms of the so-called earliest stages, they could not at all have developed a matured myth of the sun-hero, fully integrated into their cultic life. There must be even greater doubts with respect to the myth of transformation, which is supposed to be an indication of the highest stage of development and yet belongs to the oldest accessible cultural store of mankind. Cannibalism, human and animal sacrifices, the cults of the dead, shamanism - to name only a few of the most marked phenomena - occur with modern primitives as well as with the early cultures of the past as far back as the Stone Age, where our cultural-historical knowledge ends (or begins, if you wish) and bear witness to the decisive presence of the transformation myth.[5] Conversely, all late periods in the cultural development both of individual civilizations and of mankind naturally have their creation myths, which allegedly correspond to early ages. 

So, too, matriarchal and patriarchal consciousness cannot be shown to ensue in history with the regularity of a law. The medieval world of Islam was, e.g., clearly characterized by a masculine consciousness, while in simultaneous and likewise decidedly medieval Catholicism the mother archetype exerted a strong influence in the shape of the Mater Ecclesia and her priests as well as in the Mother of God. As far as the masculine mentality is concerned, medieval Islam, on the other hand, rather corresponds to Protestantism, which is characteristic of modern times. Furthermore medieval scholasticism with its spiritual character (father archetype) was replaced, as it were, by the natural sciences of our time, which by virtue of their subject matter (Mother Nature) and their 'materialistic' mode of thinking (concretism, empiricism, quantification, search for elements) prove to be in the service of the Great Mother (and are not, as is commonly held, evidence of a "patriarchal" consciousness). 

In a similar way one could produce examples of additional deviations from the postulated sequence from other ages of cultural history. Of course, Neumann offers an explanation for such discrepancies. 'In individual development and perhaps also in that of the collective, these layers do not lie on top of one another in an orderly Arrangement, but, as in the geological stratification of the earth, early layers may be pushed to the top and late layers to the bottom."[6] 

Here he overlooks the fundamental difference between geological stratification and development in stages. For in the case of geology, one is dealing with material, concrete layers in space where transposition is possible, whereas cultural development is subject to the law of irreversible time. A transposition of temporal stages is a contradiction in itself; if the "stages" are irregularly and randomly arranged in, historical time, this must refute the concept of stages. For we also do not say that the earlier geological layer can be displaced in time towards a later geological age, but only that it can be transposed upwards in space. 

Such deliberations force us to the conclusion that the application of the idea of development to cultural history is unfruitful; it does not work. There are changes in history, but there is no evolution. This is a conclusion also arrived at by most historians of religion after the attempt of decades or more to force some evolutionary pattern onto history, such as the sequence of belief in souls, in spirits and in gods (Tylor) or of prereligion, polydemonism, polytheism, monotheism (R. Otto). Mensching remarks on this subject that «there can be no doubt that these forms of religion cannot be subordinated to a historical evolutionary schema'.[7] According to Jensen also, such stages are mere speculation."[8] Hillman made the same point for psychology with reference to a relevant monograph by Radin.[9] 

In our context, the contributions of anthropology to the topic of cultural development are more momentous by far than the question of the evolution of forms of religion. When, e.9.. we read in Eliade that Uwe do not know whether the matriarchate ever existed as an independent cycle of culture" and that «ethnologists are in agreement upon one specific point - that matriarchy cannot have been a primordial phenomenon",[10] then this strikes a mortal blow at The Origins and History of Consciousness, as does the statement that "there is no proof that secret societies, as a general phenomenon, were a consequence of the matriarchate". Eliade, on the contrary, considers irresistible the conclusion that the men's secret societies derive from the myeeies of tribal initiation (independently of a particular type of culture).[11] 

To speak at all of a phylogeny in the psychic realm is even more fundamentally denied to us. For if we should take the term phylogeny to refer to cultural history as far as it is known to us, this would be the same as if we wanted to base a representation of ontogeny solely on our knowledge of the mental development of adults of advanced age. Cultural development, as far as it is accessible to us, is not phylogeny any more. The latter precedes cultural history by hundreds of millennia. just as the mental development of a philosopher or artist by no means follows fixed laws of sequence in the sense of ontogeny, but is, in every individual case, different and new, so also must the intellectual history of mankind not be confused with a phylogeny. if, however, we realize that the cultural history known to us is a late history, then any speculation as to the course of phylogeny becomes impossible in view of our total ignorance concerning the psychic situation of early mankind. 

Neumann makes the following objection to Freud's idea of the castration threat by the primal fathers in the primal horde: 'Science has discovered nothing that could possibly support such a theory..."[12] The same objection could be raised to Neumann's own theory of the Ursprungsgeschichte. But perhaps he invalidated such an objection in advance, for he also writes: 

Such utterances, although limited to the castration complex and other such "symbols", may by implication suggest that in the last analysis, Neumann wants everything he says understood as «symbolic facts' which then could not be located in empirical ("personalistic") history. Quite apart from any endeavors to derive myths from historical events, the mere attempt to search history for correspondences to the mythological patterns Neumann establishes might already be considered reductive. If he indeed means all his concepts to be exclusively symbols, then the book in question is in fact not a history and does not aim to be one. It moves solely in the realm of archetypal images and waives any claim to its possible relevance for the facts of empirical reality. Moreover, if the uroboric phase, matriarchy, the separation of the world parents, etc., are meant as strictly symbolic, this would also mean that the phases and stages themselves, indeed the entire notion of evolution and phylogeny in general, are likewise to be taken symbolically and not as in any way referring to historical processes. 

Thus we return to our earlier characterization of The Origins and History as fictitious or as a speculative construction, but we are now in a position to see this fact in a new light, in its positive aspect: The Origins and History of Consciousness is, on the whole, purely symbolic, that is to say, a myth, an archetypal fantasy. Neumann's work does not belong to the area of science: neither to the study of history (because it is oblivious to empirical facts), nor to a science of myth (because it is not concerned with laws inherent in myth itself), nor to an archetypal psychology (because it does not investigate the phenomenology of an archetype at the same time recognizing that the investigation itself expresses the archetype). In science one enters into a cognitive relationship with some object. The Ursprungsgeschichte, on the other hand, rests as a purely symbolic idea in itself, and as a myth it most nearly belongs to the realm of literary fiction. The fantasy of phylogeny is, as it were, a self-representation of an archetype. This by no means makes the value of the book questionable - its worth merely lies on a different level: instead of directly enriching our knowledge about the soul, it is itself one of the "timeless documents of the soul" (to quote a book title), and one could write a psychological study about it with the heading, "A Modern Myth - On Things That Are Seen in (or into?) History." 

To prevent a possible misconception - the Ursprungsgeschichte is not to be considered a myth because so many motifs from various mythologies occur in it. Even without mention of any such motif it would remain a myth. These motifs are merely used by way of illustration and as a means of expression for the actual myth of the Ursprungsgeschichte, as building blocks and carriers of meaning. They function as the letters with which the myth of genetic development is written. What makes the book a mythos is the archetypal fantasy of genetic development itself, the idea of phylogeny and of the progressive differentiation from the uroboric One to the radiant sun-hero. 

The regrettable thing about this mythos, as about most other modern myths too (Freud, Marx!), is that it is not presented as myth, but as science. It is an involuntary myth. just as Freud derives, reductively and literalistically, the family romance of the neurotic from actual childhood experiences and the family situation, so the "hero myth of the neurotic" and the idea of evolution are here, too, taken as factual and historical despite the insistence on the archetypal and symbolic. Because of this amalgamation of the archetypal with the empirical-factual, the mythic fantasy of genesis is deprived of its true nature and cannot be what it is. This amalgamation is responsible for the scintillating character of the book, for the oscillation between the historiographic and the purely symbolic. 

It is not the projection upon the dark beginnings of history which perverts the myth. Even in the mythological age, creation myths were Most likely projected into the historical past without los'ng their true nature. No, it is the fact that in our secularized and positivistic age the projection falls upon a history no longer open to metaphorical and mythic understanding, a history frozen into hard scientific-empirical fact. Likewise, concerning the involuntary character of the myth, it cannot be demanded that one's confinement therein be dissolved, in other words that Neumann step out of the myth of genesis and write a truly scientific account of Ursprungsgeschichte. For this would be a demand for de-mythologizing. On the contrary, it is to be regretted that the confinement in this myth is not openly acknowledged and accepted, but that it is rather converted into supposed scientific knowledge and thus smothered. And indeed, it is this lack of acceptance and insight, and this conversion, which make the confinement all the more absolute, and yet at the same time paradoxically amount to an attempt to step out of the myth. 

When at this point we pause to reflect, we realize that it should have been clear from the outset that, as regards phylogeny, we are dealing with an archetypal or mythical idea. How was it possible for this myth to be confused with empirical history in the first place? Of course genesis is a theory, a point of view, a fantasy, and not a fact! Even in biology, where this fantasy is at home and where there are many more facts supporting it, this remains a truism. Thus Adolf Portmann, speaking as a biologist, frequently describes the concept of evolution as what it is: not a scientific truth, but a matter of faith.[14] As a myth it is indeed a religious idea, and that is why it exerts such a tremendous fascination and captivates not only Neumann but also these who follow him. Because it is an archetypal and religious system, it forces itself upon consciousness as having absolute, unquestionable truth and therefore remains unreflected, even unseen, so that, like the repressed, it must return "outside" in history, as an "observed" empirical fact. 

Not only Neumann's followers, but also we ourselves (despite, or rather in, our very criticism) were blindly contained in the same myth when, at the beginning of this paper, we tried to corroborate or refute Neumann on the basis of empirical Argumentation, such as whether there is in fact a regular sequence of stages of consciousness in history - as if such questions were not entirely irrelevant from a psychological point of view. It is not our business as psychologists to base our insights on historical or biological facts. For if this were so, psychology would be a branch or offshoot of biology and history. We are not historians, and we are not (or ought not to be) concerned with empirical, but with psychological truth, that is to say with the imaginal. And it is therefore from the imagination that we should derive our knowledge. The historian or biologist may be concerned with a possible factual evolution, but even then it would be the task of the psychologist to remind him (if he should forget what Portmann realized) that 'evolution' is an archetypal idea and is not grounded in empirical nature. It seems, however, that at present we psychologists have to be told by the biologist (Portmann) what should have been a basic insight for us. Something (some 'factor») obviously keeps us from the truly psychological orientation and makes our thinking unpsychological by making us wish for, or even need, empirical verification, scientific truth, and systematizations. This 'factor' is our containment in the, Great Mother/Hero-myth, whose nature it is to create the (mythic!) fantasy of the possibility of heroically breaking out Of myth, into "f act", "truth", "'science". 

The amalgamation of the imaginal with the empirical is not without consequences. Thus the archetype is said to have a historical aspect (in addition to its 'eternal' significance).[15] Philosophically speaking, this is a fallacy for which there can be no support. How can an archetypon, a primordial image, have a genetic or historical aspect? Jung terms the archetypes, e.g., categories of the imagination, or also divine figures. That a category could in itself have a historical aspect is a contradictio in se. 'Quantity', 'time', 'causality' as categories remain forever what they are. They do not develop, even if our knowledge and ideas about them might change. The Gods too are in principle timeless; they live «in eternal youth". The divine child is always a child, the old wise man was never a youth. To be sure, there is an archetype of development, just as there also is a God of history, but there is no development, no regular sequence of the archetypes, and thus there are no archetypal phases. One could never succeed in establishing a consistent chronology of events reported in the various myths because mythic 'events' in principle do not follow one upon the other as in empirical time, but are, as images, juxtaposed and contaminated with each other. To put the cause of development into the archetypal realm, into the world of the Gods, means reducing the archetypes; although one may still conceive them as transpersonal and place them in the "beyond" of the collective unconscious, nevertheless they would now be limited to empirical temporal conditions. It would mean that one brought the Gods down from Olympus an d deprived the categories of their a priori character, as conversely history would be freed of its earthly weight. For there would then be only the "stories above" (Th. Mann), and no longer history below, but the myths (the stories above) would have to take over the character of history too. 

The postulate of an historical aspect of the archetype demands that we imagine the archetypes as programmed or, figuratively speaking, equipped with a kind of clockwork triggering them at the right moment, i.e., causing them to constellate like an automaton. To what extent such a mechanistic or biological fantasy shaped Neumann's consciousness can be illustrated by the following statement. «As organs of the psyche-'s structure the archetypes just as autonomously become active [schalten sich ein!] as do physical organs and determine the maturation of the personality in a manner analogous, e.g., to the biological-hormonal components of the constitution"![16] The categories of biology are applied to the spiritual, and the latter is thereby reduced to the "biological". 

Although actually self-evident, it nevertheless must still be stressed that evolution, if it should exist, belongs to the phenomenal realm, and thus can only be explained a posteriori, from empirical conditions, not from the archetypes. To be sure, in the course of history different archetypes have been constellated, now this one, now that. But why and how this was, and whether or not there has been a regular sequence, can only be learned from the facts of history, not from myth. Entwicklungsgeschichte is an area to be examined by biology, history, or related empirical sciences. An archetypal psychology, however, cannot contribute to it. Neumann and we who believe him do not notice (or, at least, we disregard) the fact that archetypes as mundus imaginalis possess an entirely different ontological modality from the events of the historical world of man to which the genetic belongs. With the fantasy of genesis (which is in itself true because it is archetypal) nothing has been determined as to the genetic character of history, neither one way nor the other. 

The amalgamation of the empirical and archetypal is also obvious in the concept of "Ursprungsgeschichte" which, within an archetypal psychology, is self-contradictory in that two heterogeneous elements, the archetypal origin and empirical-factual history, are joined together and thus placed on the same level. But the origin must not be sought for at the beginning of history, but is correlated to every present moment. Ursprung und Gegenwart, as Jean Gebser entitled his book, belong inseparably together by virtue of their polar separation. The origin is (at least for an archetypal view) never in history, or temporally before it, but 'above" it, in a "'place above the heavens» (Plato), or in illo tempore, as Eliade likes to stress. Conversely, history must not be merged into the archetypal origin. The concept of an Ursprungsgeschichte is not fundamentally different f rom Freud's postulate of a (historical) primal horde except that in Neumann the mythic origin swallows up history, while Freud allows the mythic fantasy to merge with history. This may be the reason for Neumann's frequent and sharp attacks on Freud, because his view is not so fundamentally different from Freud's after all. Neumann is able at one and the same time to locate the origin in transpersonal myth and yet to understand it as actual (pre-)history. Thus neither the factual nor the imaginal can be true to its own nature. 
 

*

Whereas in The Origins and History the archetypal phases were, so to speak, suspended in the air because they lacked an empirical foundation, the relationship between the factual and the archetypal seems to be the opposite in Neumann's The Child: there the discussion of ontogeny is indeed based on empirical facts, and there can be no doubt that as far as children are concerned there is development, growth, and maturation. But that this development proceeds in archetypal stages seems to me extremely questionable. Is it not possible that in The Child a physiologically determined growth is merely "dressed up" as archetypal? Remarkably enough, academic psychology and psychoanalysis were able to set up psychologies of development sufficiently describing the known facts without needing to have recourse to the notion of archetypes. What does "uroboric stage" add to the "symbiotic or dyadic relationship of mother and child" in psychoanalysis? Is this not merely a different formulation for the same idea? We must not forget that even instinct-oriented psychoanalysis has long gone beyond Freud's personalistic attitude. I cannot help having the impression that The Child is at bottom an instinct-psychological study only 'secondarily' 'translated' into the archetypal. And such must be the case, for we have already seen that an actual development cannot be explained by having recourse to archetypes. Genetic growth, where it is not a perspective (an archetypal idea), is a natural process, and even in the case of mental development it is biological or quasi-biological, not archetypal or spiritual. 

Neumann has not shown that the archetype of the uroboros governs early childhood; he merely uses this image to describe the initial psychic condition - or rather his view of this condition. That is to say, it is his consciousness that is structured by the archetype of the uroboros, he has an uroboric fantasy and projects it upon the child, just as Freud placed his theory of penis envy into the minds of girls: "Freud's fantasy of the little girl's mind becomes a Freudian fantasy in the little girl's mind", as Hillman [17] puts it. The fact that the uroboros is taken from mythology does not make it a description of actual childhood in any way more or less - archetypal or mythic than Freud's concept of orality. On the contrary, whereas a concept does not claim to give archetypal insight, the use of a mythic image for the description of empirical facts identifies the archetypes with, and reduces them to, empirical reality, while at the same time degrading what could be a fantasy in its own right to a mere figure of speech. 

A psychology of development concerned with actual ages and occurrences cannot be an archetypal psychology because it literalizes the imaginal. Not even the frequent use of the word archetype and of myths can alter this. Whether one projects the Oedipus complex or the PU uroboros into actual childhood - either case betrays reductive thinking. Jung, in writing about the child, was not concerned with actual childhood, but with the archetypal child motif and specifically warned against confusing it with the empirical child (CW 9,1 p. 161n.). A psychology is only archetypal if it takes to heart the basic insights contained in the following statement: 

Opposing the concept of an archetypal ontogeny does not mean rejecting the idea that the child's mind, too, is structured by archetypes. Of course it is. But a simple schema does not help us here, any more than it does in the case of adults. What I want to object to is the unfortunate amalgamation of the archetypal and the genetic, which brings with it a kind of mechanistic automation and which nails down both the child to only a few, rigidly defined archetypal possibilities and the archetypes to a limited number of stages. Furthermore, it literalistically confines the imaginal in the factual, whereas the archetypes should conversely enable us to amplify, in the direction of soul, the merely natural, the instincts, and factual reality, and to proceed beyond the monotony and factuality, i.e., beyond the "mono'-interpretation, of what is given ... Also, a psychology with a genetic orientation cannot be interested in a differentiated understanding of archetypal images. It prefers, e.9-, to recognize the uroboros in paradise, in the womb, the grave, the mandala, the cohabitation of Heaven and Earth, in Okeanos and Purusha, and thus to diagnose a certain phase of consciousness, rather than to work out the specific meaning of each individual image. 

Now, as far as the equal sign between ontogeny and phylogeny is concerned - the view that "ontogenetic development' is 'a modified recapitulation of phylogenetic development"[19] - we can again refer to Portmann, according to whom even the "biogenetic law» originates in a creed,[20] or we can say all that is needed with the following statement: It is nowhere established (despite E. Neumann) that the phylogenetic stages (if there are such things) necessarily parallel stages of individual consciousness (if there are such things).[21] 
 

*

We have herewith answered in the narrower sense the question posed by our topic. Now we shall trace out more broadly the background of the amalgamation of the archetypal and the factual by examining Neumann's work for its immanent intention. We see the thrust of all his scholarly endeavors directed towards one single center, towards one highest idea: the Einheitswirklichkeit. Interestingly enough, Jung also introduced a concept with the same literal meaning: unus mundus. But as M.-L. v. Franz pointed out, there is a fundamental difference between the two concepts.[22] Whereas the unus mundus exists only in potentia or could perhaps be said to have only an ideal existence, so that the antinomial character of this world, especially the separation of physis and psyche, remains untouched, the Einheitswirklichkeit posits an actual unity in our world, from which we originate in a historical sense and from which we are separated merely through the development of consciousness. It is an immanent unity that even becomes almost concretely visible to our consciousness (which normally must resolve everything into opposites) in some zoological phenomena,[23] e.g., and above all in the uroboric relationship of mother and child. For Neumann, even the milk of the mother - in its physical factualness! - is a part of the archetype, and "among all functions of motherliness which to our consciousness appear as physical or psychic' there exists a "contamination and participation",[24] in other words, the opposites actually do not exist; nature and spirit, archetypal image and factual reality, are contaminated with each other or are one and the same. It is 'only" our consciousness which divides what in literal reality is One. The place of the mysterium coniunctionis, in which the opposites, without losing their peculiar character, can unite in, and by virtue of, a Third, is taken by a factual unity containing the opposites in a state of amalgamation comparable to a compromise. 

A remark of Neumann's clearly shows with how great a force the archetype of oneness must have driven him: "Analytical psychology, contrary to psychoanalysis, has a primarily monistic orientation. Its libido theory does not assume a speculative opposition of eros and thanatos, but replaces it with the secondary polarization of the primarily uniform libido..."[25] This is by no means true for analytical psychology as such. Here the libido is not only hypostasized, in contradiction to Jung - for Jung, libido is not a dynamis, a something, but as energy it is rather a mere (theoretical) concept of quantity, so that the question of uniform vs. polar structure does not apply in the first place - but it is also obvious that such views are in strongest contrast to the basic principles of Jungian psychology. 

The problem of opposites holds so prominent a place in Jung's psychology that L. Schlegel [25a] was able to base his discussion of it on the idea of the polarity of the psyche. Also, according to this psychology the dynamics of the psyche exclusively exist by virtue of the tension of opposites. And Jung himself expressly rejected any kind of monism: 

How fundamental this dualism was for Jung can be seen from the fact that he conceived even the ultimate principle, God, as an internal antinomy or paradox. "God himself", he wrote to Neumann on 5. Jan. 1952, "is a contradictio in adiecto..."[26] 

It is now very important to realize that the faith in Einheitswirklichkeit is not a genuine monism such as materialism or idealism, where only one pole is accepted and the other one is reductively explained in terms of the first. We already said that the Einheitswirklichkeit contains the opposites in a state of amalgamation, and indeed the very word unity implies, or presupposes, a fantasy of opposites. Paradoxically, the fantasies of unity and of opposites seem to belong to the same archetypal configuration, the one being the answer (almost inherent) to the problem presented by the other. This problem is the same as the one Schiller expressed in the following lines: 
  

Ach, kein Steg will dahin führen,
Ach der Himmel über mir
Will die Erde nie berühren ...

(Alas, no footbridge will lead thither, alas, Heaven above me will never touch the Earth...) It is the vision of a world rent into two halves, an 'upper' one which as 'Idea' contains all spiritual meaning, but volatilizes, and a 'lower' one, which being 'phenomenal' is heavy and concrete, but utterly without meaning. 

Of course, in psychology we are not wont to use these terms, but in our language the same old pair of opposites reappears, e.g., under the names Ego/Self. It is, however, not sufficient to characterize the Ego/Self fantasy as one of opposites, for there are different types of opposition. We are here specifically dealing with a dualism in the sense of the Law of Contradiction, i.e., the mutual exclusion of the opposites. Schiller-s image beautifully reveals which archetype is at work here producing such a hopeless ontology. This image is the motif of the separation of the world parents, only too well known to us from the Ursprungsgeschichte. 

Thus we again see that one and the same archetype, the hero myth, both creates the problem of polarity and provides the answer to it (i.e., the content of Neumann's psychology) - at once and a priori so that we cannot say which is first, problem or solution. But there is no solution to this problem. The question, as it is posed under the dominance of the hero archetype, excludes an answer from the beginning. Nothing can unite Heaven and Earth once they are defined as separated. We here encounter the tragedy of the heroic ego, which can only continue to separate, dissolve, analyze, and kill, but never again find connectedness, not because such connectedness is altogether impossible, but because it has no place within a myth aiming for separation and violence. The "premise" of the vision structured by the hero archetype is war, opposition, severing; the "conclusion", therefore, cannot be oneness and monism. Within the hero mythology, the One can only occur as 'origin' in the past: as something from which one is again fundamentally separated by time. 

lt is not necessary for us here to enter into the question of to what extent this vision is responsible for the problems of the modern West (alienation, fragmentation, pollution, etc.) and specifically shapes the scientific mind. Our fate, however, may well depend on whether we are able to move out from our confinement in the ultimately deadly hero myth. As we said, there are other visions of the opposites, such as Goethe's symbolic Weltanschauung, and the as above so below" of magic, astrology and also alchemy, visions in which the question and the answer are "formulated" entirely differently: Heaven must not touch the Earth because there is a connection despite and even by virtue of the separation. The principle of unity must not be literally fantasied as factual Einheitswirklichkeit negating the polarities, but can also be envisioned as a complexio oppositorum which at one and the same time ultimately acknowledges the opposition and represents the paradox of their oneness...[27] 

Schiller was aware of and expressed the dilemma of his ontology, and probably also knew about its hopelessness. Thus his lamentation. In Neumann, however, the problem seems to have been c"solved» through the device of amalgamation. The footbridge that Schiller lacked was provided by the fantasy of genesis, which made it possible to simply get rid of the problem by identifying the dualistic idea of "Heaven above - Earth below", i.e., a spatial fantasy, with a temporal-linear one. Thus the archetypal origin ("above") was amalgamated with the temporal origin ("in the beginning"), and the collective unconscious as mundus imaginalis was identified with that unconscious out of which consciousness differentiates itself. And vice versa. Likewise, the libido was hypostasized. Whereas in the last analysis the genetic theory tries to present the problem of opposites as an apparent problem, it much rather itself proves to be an apparent solution. By placing time and the line of development, which begins at a pointlike origin, into the archetypal realm, the "above-below" problem is of course avoided, but therefore also not solved. Instead, the Whence, which Jung says is less essential than the Whither (CW 4, para 759) (Whither also to be understood in the sense of Where), again determines the orientation. For within a genetic fantasy, the aim of monistic oneness can only be imagined as origin and in the past. Thus origin and goal, forwards and backwards, reconnect in a uroboric circle, showing that even linear thinking ultimately returns to a circular type of thinking. 

In a late letter to Jung (18. Feb. 1959) Neumann seems, however, to have detached himself from linear thinking. 

Though somewhat cryptic, as Jung also felt the entire letter to be, these sentences amount to an unmistakable renunciation of history, phylogeny, Ursprungsgeschichte, and the genetic theory. Here the historical, empirical world (ego) and the archetypal or mythic realm (self) are kept apart, and linear evolution in "horizontal' time (beginning-end) is likewise distinguished from the "vertical' relation ("above-below", ego-self, archetypal realm-empirical reality, Ursprung-Gegenwart). 

However, it would be a mistake to assume that Neumann here wanted to revoke his earlier work. Instead of resolving the amalgamation, these statements much rather reveal its background. For in the Ursprungsgeschichte the amalgamation came about, as we have seen, because the historical was depreciated, but nevertheless stole into the archetypal itself as a genetic aspect of the archetypes. By dethroning the Gods man becomes identical with them, according to Jung; so the depreciated empirical-temporal (of the "isolated unique historical ego" [29]) must conversely burden the archetypal realm or the self with this very same temporal aspect. To the same degree that horizontal time is made light of, the vertical ego-self-axis must take it over and carry it, so that the evolution is now thought to proceed along this vertical axis instead of in historical time. Then the imaginal itself receives a literal and factual character which is to be distinguished from the reverse process of projecting fantasy onto fact or into the empirical realm. Even when projected, myth lives and can move the soul, as the myth of the primal horde probably did for Freud although he did not see that it was a myth. But it is disastrous if the archetypal is seen for what it is and is yet simultaneously forced to become factual, for then myth is stifled on its own ground. Nevertheless, even this stifling of myth is the doing of archetypal persons, the doing of the Great Mother/Hero-myth, as we pointed out. Therefore here, too, a myth is alive and is, though blindly, being enacted. 

It would seem to be this Hero/Great Mother constellation that is responsible for the one-sided emphasis on the vertical ego-self-axis and for the depreciation of historical time; that furthermore promises meaning by creating the fantasy of an «absolute and extraneous knowledge» and of a «fixed order», i.e.. that kind of meaning Mother Nature can provide; and that finally helps sustain a fundamental ideological optimism [30] by making light of all the trials of history, of all suffering and imperfection, because it conceives of them as belonging merely 'to the constellation of the ego as 'time'". Thus Neumann, e.g., denied that today we are experiencing a "Verlust der Mitte" [loss of the center] (Sedlmayr) and he believed that the morbidity of a person was voided if in addition he possessed creativity.[31] By promising redemption from history and fate, and by making us strive for the certainty and safety of a deductive system [32] corresponding to the "fixed order" in nature, the Hero/Great Mother-myth (= the ego-self-axis psychology) lures us away from the anima, the soul, keeping us from being moved by the unknown.[33] 

Notwithstanding his other important achievements, Neumann [34], did not render analytical psychology a service in introducing the genetic approach. By following him, that is to say by taking his system, his phases and stages literally instead of symbolically, we base psychology on an unfitting ontology within which a truly archetypal psychology cannot thrive, while empirical reality is at the same time deprived of its concreteness; we at bottom reaffirm - despite our anti-positivistic concern with the symbolical and, transpersonal - the Darwinian prejudice according to which we like to ascribe unconsciousness to the primitive and a highly developed consciousness to ourselves; and above all, we fall into the Hero/Great Mother-myth and thus become unpsychological. 
 
 

[1] Gerhard Adler, "Erich Neumann": 1905-1960', Spring 1961, p. 7. 

[2] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, transl. R. F. C. Hull, New York (Pantheon Books, Bollingen Series) 1954, p. 41 (in the following abbr. O&H). 

[3] Cf. O&H, p. XXI. 

[4] Ibid. p. XIX. 

[5] Cf. Heino Gehrts, Das Märchen und das Opfer, Bonn (Bouvier), 1967. 

[6] O&H, p. 41f. 

[7] Gustav Mensching, Die Religion, München (Goldmann Taschenbuch), no date, p. 277 (my transl.). 

[8] Adolf Jensen, Mythos und Kult bei Naturvölkern, 1951, p. 335, cited by Mensching, op. cit., p. 273. 

[9] James Hillman, "Psychology: Monotheistic or Polytheistic", Spring 1971, pp. 193ff. 

[10] Mircea Eliade, Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries, transl. Ph. Mairet, New York (Harper Torchbooks) 1967, p. 177. 

[11] Ibid., p. 201. 

[12] O&H, p. XXI. 

[13] Ibid., p. XXIf. 

[14] E.g., Adolf Portmann, "Die werdende Menschheit. Das Ursprungsproblem der Menschheit", Historia mundi, ed. Fr. Valjavec, Vol. 1, Bern (Francke), 1952, p. 28. 

[15] O&H, p. XVI. 

[16] E. Neumann, Ursprungsgeschichte des Bewusstseins, Zürich (Rascher), 1949, p.4 (my transl.). 

[17] James Hillman, The Myth of Analysis, Evanston (Northwestern U. P.), 1972, p 243. 

[18] Ibid. 

[19] O&H, p. XX. 

[20] Adolf Portmann, Zoologie und das neue Bild des Menschen, (Rowohlts Deutsche Enzyklopädie), no date, p. 78. 

[21] Hillman, "Psychology: Monotheistic or Polytheistic", p. 195f (modified). 

[22] M.-L. von Franz Zahl und Zeit, Stuttgart (Klett), 1970, p. 16n. 

[23] Erich Neumann, "Die Erfahrung der Einheitswirklichkeit", Der schöpferische Mensch, Darmstadt (Wiss. Buchges.), 1965, p. 62ff. 

[24] Erich Neumann, Das Kind, ed. J. Neumann, Zürich (Rhein-Verlag), 1963, p 93f. (my transl.). 

[25] Ibid., p. 55 (my transl.). 

[25a] Leonhard Schlegel, Die Polarität der Psyche und ihre Integration. Eine kritische Darstellung der Psychologie von C. G. Jung (vol. 4 of his Grundriss der Tiefensychologie), München (Uni-Taschenbücher, Francke), 1973. 

[26] C. G. Jung Briefe, ed. A. Jaffé, Yol 2, Olten/Freiburg (Walter), 1972, p. 241 (my trans1.). [27] Cf. Andrew Jaszi, Entzweiung und Vereinigung. Goethes symbolische WeltAnschauung, Heidelberg (Stiehm), 1973. 

[28] Printed in Aniela Jaffé, Der Mythos vom Sinn im Werk von C. G. Jung, Zürich / Stuttgart (Rascher), 1967, p. 180f. 

[29] Ibid., p. 181. 

[30] Cf. C. G. Jung, op. cit., Vol. 3, 1973, p. 99, editor's note 8; cf. also E. Neumann, Krise und Erneuerung, Zürich (Rhein-Verlag), 1961. 

[31] E. Neumann, 'Georg Trakl - Person und Mythos', Der schöpferische Mensch, pp. 247ff. 

[32] Cf . O&H, p. XVII: "The deductive and systematic method of exposition here adopted." 

[33] On the anima as mediatrix to the unknown see J. Hillman, "'Anima' (II)", Spring 1974, pp 124ff. 

[34] We should not overlook the fact that Jung had some words of praise for Neumann's work, e.g., CW 5, para 3. But it is not our task here to discuss Jung's position regarding Neumann's thought. 

The article was reprinted with the same title in: Renos K. Papadopoulos (Ed.)(1992) Carl Gustav Jung: Critical Assessments, Vol. II. London, Routlegde, pp 138-155.

 
The author, Dr. phil. Wolfgang Giegerich, is a Jungian analyst living near Munich, Germany. 

He published an own attempt at the origins of consciousness in German - almost 20 years after the refutation of Neumann's book: Wolfgang Giegerich (1994) Tötungen - Gewalt aus der Seele. Versuch über Ursprung und Geschichte des Bewußtseins. Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang. There are four more books and many articles in German by him. 

More articles in English by W. Giegerich appeared in Spring 1977, 1979, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, #51, 54, 55, and in Harvest. Here is a link to a page on his first English book The Soul's Logical Life
 


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