St. John of the Cross and Dr. C.G. Jung

Chapter 2: A Typology of the Sciences


It is hard for us to comprehend the intensity and numinosity of Jung's psychological experiences; they were not half-glimpsed fragments of images that barely penetrated into the day-lit world, but rather, emotionally laden visions with more force than everyday events. The gift of these inner experiences and the single-mindedness with which Jung pursued their meaning superbly equipped him to create a science of the psyche. In it he would try to explain these experiences which we all have, though in different degrees of intensity and accessibility.


Jung started his scientific work on the basis of empirical facts, that is, these observable, inner psychological events. He experienced these facts in himself and his patients, and through his researches in myth and religion. Then in an attempt to understand these facts he organized them by means of a hypothesis which attempted to link them together under a heading that would best seem to explain them. The facts themselves were there for anyone to verify who had the opportunity to come in contact with this inner psychological world, and the interpretation of the facts could, and did, change as more material came to light and better explanations were framed in order to account for them. Jung found in his own dreams and those of his patients, and in his spontaneous drawings, images of circles, balls, crowns, gems, coins, etc., as we have seen. These were empirical facts. By observing how they appeared and in what context and how these symbols were transformed and what feelings were connected with them, he eventually concluded that they were all manifestations of one underlying factor, and he called this factor, or archetype, the self. The word self, however, was not meant to express a content that went beyond the initial material upon which it had been based. It was not an explanatory concept in the sense that it had an intrinsic meaning that extended further than the observable phenomena. "The name should mean to him (the psychologist) no more than a mere cipher, and his whole conceptual system should be to him no more than a trigonometrical survey of a certain geographical area in which the fixed points of reference are indispensible in practice, but irrelevant in theory."(1) It is the observable empirical material that holds the supremacy. If this material outstrips the organizing power of the hypothesis, then the hypothesis must be discarded and another one created. Whatever the self may be in itself is not the issue. The hypothesis is not attempting to go beyond the observable appearances and to discover the causes that give rise to them. It is content to grasp the underlying object through the network of observations, and by coordinating these observations understand something, about the object, not directly, but through the creation of the hypothesis which serves as a substitute for the object. The hypothesis, then, is a construct, a descriptive vehicle, by which the empirical material can be dealt with. By its nature it is never complete and constantly evolves. Its value lies in its applicability to similar observations, and so in this sense it has an explanatory power. For example, many people will find in their dreams the same images and feelings that Jung grouped together under the concept of the self, and thus it will appear to them as a reasonable explanation of their own experience. Two mistakes must be avoided: the first is treating Jung's concepts as if they were things in themselves. "Functional concepts in psychology - and not only in psychology - do not denote things like a liver or a brain, but constellations of phenomena exhibiting a certain dynamic structure and conforming to certain laws ... If the concept serves to describe and account for a well-defined group of phenomena clearly and economically, it is scientifically useful."(2) The second mistake is to separate Jung's concepts from the empirical material upon which they are based. This happens, for example, when Jung's ideas are criticized as if he simply thought them up by means of some kind of conscious ingenuity, and then tried to apply them to his patients.

Jung's psychology has a number of distinctive qualities. Although it is an empirical science, it is not an experimental one in the strict sense, for it does not artificially limit the possible factors that can give rise to a psychic response in order to test one portion of the psyche at a time. It attempts to be a science which listens to and observes the whole psyche, both conscious and unconscious, and thus it does not want to limit the answers that the psyche as a whole can give. However, to be non-experimental is not the same as being non-verifiable, for the results that it obtains can be verified by further observation. It attains the facts on which it bases itself not only by measurement, but principally by observation.

Jung's psychology could be called a science of man inasmuch as he is a psychic being; it is a vision of man constructed through observable psychic facts. These psychic images were at once at the very center of Jung's personal sense of identity and the life-blood out of which he created his psychology. When we understand this, we are in a position to grasp his tremendous passion for collecting more and more concrete material. lung was attempting to understand the structure and dynamics of the whole psyche, and the only way he could do this was to surround himself with its manifestations, whether they came from himself or his patients or modern literature, ancient myths, religious doctrines, etc. All these fields were fertile hunting grounds for him inasmuch as their contents existed in the psyche of man. He repeated many times that even if a field itself had no intrinsic truth, it still had a psychic reality inasmuch as it existed in the human psyche. The more material he could assimilate, the wider empirical base he would have for erecting his theoretical constructs, with the promise that having seen the phenomena in all its facets his hypothesis would be as well grounded as possible. Jung moved from empirical material to hypothesis and back again in a ceaseless quest to deepen the foundation of his psychology. He spent years, for example, trying to decipher the symbols of the alchemists until he had reduced their mass of material to simple form. In Mysterium Coniunctionis: "if one examines the original draft of the work, one discovers, incredibly enough, that by itself it would have made a relatively short book: a nucleus of basic concepts tied together logically, in the form of a hypothetical construct."(3)

Then he reclothed these hypotheses in their full empirical regalia so that they would appear to the scientific public in their integral form.


Jung always felt an affinity for Kant's philosophy, and cited it on many occasions. Yet, if we give this attraction a philosophical meaning we can be led into many difficulties. Jung was not a philosopher, not even a Kantian one. What he found in Kant was a philosophical echo of his own distinctive psychological point of view, for in many ways Kantian philosophy is constructed after the pattern of empirical science rather than that of traditional metaphysics. Jung's choice of Kant was more instinctive than deliberate, for Kant was the methodology of science raised to the level of philosophy. For Jung, Kant was the way to ward off his two principle adversaries: a 19th century science embedded in a matrix of materialism and rationalism, and the world of philosophers and theologians who could see no connection between the world of the psyche and the realms they laid claim to. When Kant said that the extra-mental thing in itself was unknowable, this coincided with Jung's perception that the thing behind the phenomena was not his goal, and when Kant said that the perceptions we received from things are organized by the categories that exist in our mind, Jung saw in this a confirmation of the role of the archetypes in shaping psychic phenomena. Thus, Kant confirmed Jung's deepest inclination to put the psychic image before the thing in itself and to see that these images were reflections of the underlying unknowable realities. Both as a man and a scientist, Jung wanted nothing more than to be free to pursue this way of psychic images. Let his critics, he seems to say, fight with Kant and leave him in peace to pursue his work.

If we criticize Jung as if he were a philosopher, or as if he deliberately studied Kant in order to clarify the epistemological foundations of his psychology, we will be at a loss to understand the import of his use of Kant. In virtue of Jung's method, he could not know the thing in itself, he could only know it through psychic phenomena. Thus, on the one hand he talks of the self being a limiting concept whose content is unknown to us, or how "the archetype in itself is empty and purely formal, nothing but a facultas praeformandi."(4) At the same time, Jung never doubted that the psychic phenomena actually manifested the archetypes, that he was knowing the archetypes through the phenomena. If we turn Jung into a philosopher, we will be led to say that he is making the archetypes unknowable and, at the same time, claiming to know them through the psychic images and emotions. Then we will urge him to find a more coherent philosophical position.(5) Yet this problem will resolve itself if we allow Jung to be an empirical scientist who, though he is convinced that the object of his science is not the thing in itself, is implicitly realistic. He realizes there is something, some unknowable, grounding his observations. "In my effort to depict the limitations of the psyche, I do not mean to imply that only the psyche exists. It is merely that, so far as perception and cognition are concerned, we cannot see beyond the psyche. Science is tacitly convinced that a non-psychic transcendental object exists."(6)

If we understand this statement from the point of view of Jung's empirical science of the psyche, it expresses the fact that the material the scientist is in contact with, the psychological facts, are looked at as manifesting the non-psychic object that cannot be known directly. Jung goes on: "...I have never been inclined to think that our senses were capable of perceiving all forms of being. I have therefore even hazarded the postulate that the phenomenon of archetypal configurations - which are psychic events par excellance - may be founded on a psychoid base, that is, upon an only partially psychic and possibly altogether different form of being. For lack of empirical data, I have neither knowledge nor understanding of such forms of being which are commonly called spiritual."(7)

In short, the scientist is convinced that he is dealing with real things, the extra-mental objects, as it were, but he is equally convinced that they remain unknowable in themselves and are only known through the psychological phenomena that manifest them.

Jung maintained this distinctive scientific viewpoint even when he was talking about God. He often distinguished between talking about the god-image which was in the province of the psychologist, and talking about God as if God were a direct object of cognition. He never identified God with the unconscious from an objective point of view since both these things were unknowable in themselves to the psychologist, and therefore could not be compared to each other according to their inner natures. At the same time, from the point of view of psychological experience or subjectivity, he felt there was no way to distinguish between the experience of God and the experience of the unconscious. From the perspective of the subjective experience itself, the use of the term God becomes synonymous with the use of the term unconscious. Yet Jung realized that the term God recognizes another psychological note by which we give expression to the peculiar way in which we experience the workings of these autonomous concepts. "The great advantage of the concepts "Daimon" and "God" lies in making possible a much better objectification of the vis--vis, namely a personification of it."(8).


If Jung was acting as an empirical scientist, why did he have so many difficulties with people who held philosophical and theological points of view? There are a number of reasons why the dialogue between Jung's psychology and theology has been much less fruitful than it could have been. First, there is the newness of a natural science of the psychology that tries to account for the whole psyche. Both the contents and the methodology are strange to philosophers and theologians, who often lack the grounding in empirical experience that is vital in understanding Jung's formulations. Secondly, there is the inclination of philosophically-minded people to find an explicit philosophy in Jung. Finally, there is something in Jung's presentation of his scientific position that hinders communication between his psychology and theology.

The very gift Jung possessed which enabled him to be so sensitive to the unconscious also led him to identify his personal point of view with his scientific one. His personal way of seeing coincided with the nature and limits of his scientific methodology. It was not as if his views on science were one thing and his views on religion another. When he used the terms philosophy or theology or metaphysics, he tended to identify them with each other and use them not only to describe the area that lay outside of science, but also lay beyond the possibility of any sure knowledge. He unconsciously tended to identify his scientific methodology with Kant's Critique, and then use them both as a kind of measure to indicate that theology did not really know the things it purported to. Theology in his mind understood neither epistemology nor experience. He had listened to the theological discussions of his uncles and experienced the problems of his father, and felt that their belief was a blind as that of the materialists: "I felt more certain than ever that both lacked epistemological criticism as well as experience... The arch sin of faith, it seemed to me, was that it forestalled experience." (9) But experience here meant the kind of experiences that Jung went through himself and which were crucial in formulating his scientific method, while epistemology meant accepting the unknowability of the thing in itself.

There are many statements in Jung's writings that can be given two distinct interpretations: one as an expression of his scientific method, and the other as an extension of this method so that it becomes a judgment on the possibility of other ways of knowing.

"When I do use such mythic language, I am aware that "mana", "daimon", and "God" are synonyms for the unconscious - that is to say, we know just as much or just as little about them as about the latter. People only believe they know much more about them - and for certain purposes that belief is far more useful and effective than a scientific concept." (10)

"For lack of empirical data I have neither knowledge nor understanding of such forms of being which are commonly called spiritual. From the point of view of science it is immaterial what I may believe on that score, and I must accept my ignorance ... All comprehension and all that is comprehended is in itself psychic, and to that extent we are hopelessly cooped up in an exclusively psychic world." (11)

Passages like these have an inner tendency to go beyond a statement of the scientific method and move towards a position about the nature of knowledge itself. Belief, in Jung's mind, was the antithesis of knowledge, despite what other ends it might serve. His discussions with his father often ended with his father saying, "Oh, nonsense ... you always want to think. One ought not to think but believe", and Jung would think, "No, one must experience and know."(12)

Later, when Jung examined statements about God found in Indian religion, he makes what he feels to be a telling point against their simplicity. "The Indian lacks the epistemological standpoint just as much as our own religious language does. He is still 'pre-Kantian'."(13) Despite the language of these passages, Jung is not trying to be a philosopher, but since he lived so completely within the perspective of his own methodology, it was not comprehensible to him that people could take philosophy, faith and theology as ways of knowing. The issue at this point is not whether Jung in his evaluation of philosophy and theology is correct or not, but simply that he has inadvertently moved into the territory of epistemology. Philosophy and theology lay claim to their own distinctive facts and methodologies and ways of finding the truth, just like psychology does, and psychology is not the judge of these claims.

There is, then, a certain implicit philosophical position in Jung's psychology, a dimension of Kantian presuppositions, an epistemological position. This should not make us demand that Jung ought to have been a philosopher, and more importantly, it should not lead us to think that these philosophical presuppositions vitally distorted Jung's basic formulations. At the same time, we have to be aware of this aspect in Jung's writings, especially when it is a question of his interpretations of Christianity.

Jung interpreted Christianity after the pattern of his own psychology, and while, as I have maintained, there is a great value to Jung's empirical psychology, and even to his insights about the deficiencies and weaknesses of Christian theology, Jung's appreciation of Christianity never goes beyond this perspective, and unfortunately, tends to assert that it is not possible to go beyond this perspective.

Jung's psychology has been accused of being a Jungian religion, and a new version of Christianity. This is false inasmuch as analytical psychology is an empirical science, and the religious object in itself falls outside of its competence. It is religious inasmuch as it examines the religious function in man and its manifestations, but this form of religiosity does not extend beyond the bounds of empirical science, and does not constitute the formulation of a religion. The accusation does, however, hit upon the epistemological ambiguity that I have been examining. Analytical psychology lays itself open to the charge of creating a religion to the degree it finds insuperable, universal, epistemological barriers which deprive religion of any distinctive and genuine kind of knowing; if the possibility of knowing the religious object is denied, then what is left to religion is the religious function, and therefore Jung's psychology can function as a religion just as well as anything else.

Christian theology cannot admit the validity of this approach without suffering the loss of its own distinctive nature and method. There is no theology in Jung that can be transposed into an authentic Christian context as a direct development of traditional theology or as a replacement for it. Jung's highly provocative comments on the trinity and quaternity and the nature of evil and the role it should play in the god-image are not theology and should not be taken as theology. These ideas can be of great value to the theologian who will have the courage to use them to help purify the human dimension of his theological formulations, but at the same time, he cannot allow them to displace the content of these formulations. Even though Jung's empirical psychology grew and was formulated within the context of a certain kind of appreciation of Christianity, it is formally distinct from this context, and the use of Jung's psychology does not demand the acceptance of his interpretation of Christianity.

This is not the place to attempt to justify the validity of metaphysics, faith and theology as ways of knowing. It is important, however, to realize that a more nuanced epistemology could appreciate Jung's scientific methodology without, at the same time, feeling compelled to negate these other areas.


Jacques Maritain, 1882-1973, was born in Paris and was studying philosophy at the Sorbonne with his wife Raissa when they were both converted to Catholicism. Maritain went on to become one of the leading figures in the revitalization of the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. He combined a remarkable grasp of Thomistic philosophy with a deep interest in contemporary events. He wrote extensively on metaphysics, the creative processes of art and poetry, and the social implications of Thomism. Less known, but equally important, are his writings on the epistemology of the modern sciences and his attempts to lay the groundwork for the rejuvenation of the philosophy of nature.

Unfortunately, despite being contemporaries, Jung and Maritain seemed to have been almost completely unaware of each other's works. The closest their paths crossed was Maritain's Mellon lectures which were published as Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry by Bollingen, and contained some scattered footnotes on Jung's ideas.

The Degrees of Knowledge, published in 1932, represents one of Maritain's finest achievements. It was an attempt to formulate an epistemological topography, as it were, that would recognize the distinctive methods of the modern sciences and of philosophy and theology, and yet bring them into relationship with each other. A central role in this synthesis was assigned to the philosophy of nature, which could be called a philosophical understanding of physical reality. In ancient and medieval times there were no empirical sciences, or sciences of phenomena as we know them now. The very methodology proper to the sciences themselves remained implicit and overshadowed by the deductive and ontological mode of proceeding of the philosophy of nature with its talk about matter and form, body and soul, etc. As the empirical sciences grew in strength and in an implicit awareness of their own methodologies, they felt constrained to revolt against philosophy, and especially the philosophy of nature, that had dominated the field of the physical real for so long. This split between philosophy and the sciences had unfortunate consequences for both. The once robust discipline of the philosophy of nature wasted away. It tended to be more and more cut off from the life-giving contact with physical reality and replace this contact with empty speculation. The sciences, for their part, became involved with various pseudo-philosophies like mechanicism and a scientific materialism which Jung felt constrained to struggle against. In the 20th century the sciences became conscious of their own methods and their limitations, and were led, in many cases, to the borders of metaphysics. (14) Yet, between the sciences and philosophy, there was a great chasm, and in Maritain's mind the most satisfactory way to bridge it was an exact understanding of the methods of the modern sciences and a renewal of the philosophy of nature. The philosophy of nature, while being closely related to metaphysics, studied the physical world and thus was best suited to mediate between the empirical sciences and metaphysics.

This bridge-building has, in fact, been going very slowly. It is hard for the modern, scientifically trained mind, even when it is aware of the limitations of the scientific method, to credit philosophy as a genuine way of knowing. The very palpability of psychological facts that founds and governs an empirical psychology like Jung's becomes a habit of mind that makes it difficult to appreciate what Maritain called the poverty and majesty of metaphysics which extends to the philosophy of nature as well. They are poor in their very relationship to sensible matter which is at the heart of the experimental sciences, while they are rich in far-reaching insights that allow a glimpse of the central realities of human existence. While metaphysics, for example, is based on facts, these facts, far from being acquired by elaborate equipment or subtle or complicated research, are very simple, e.g., the fact that things exist and the fact that different kinds of things exist, etc. The very simplicity of these facts can make them suspect in modern eyes, and the proper employment of these simple facts demands a certain kind of metaphysical intuition. (15)

From the other side, the philosophy of nature that Maritain envisioned is still groping to find its proper relationship between the world of metaphysics and the actual practice of the modern sciences. It can be tempted in either direction: to withdraw into a world of philosophy, leaving the actual exploration of the physical real to the sciences, or it can lose sight of its own distinctive methodology and become a pseudo-philosophy that merely imitates the methods and findings of modern science. Despite all these limitations and difficulties, it is valuable to situate Jung's psychology within Maritain's schema of epistemological types. This will allow us to see that the adventitious philosophical presuppositions in Jung's formulation of his psychology are not irremediable obstacles to the use of his psychology as a tool of theological understanding.


Science means today the empirical sciences, and Maritain coined the word empiriological to distinguish them clearly from the philosophy of nature. As Jung indicated, the sciences today are not looking for any knowledge of things in themselves. Maritain states, "...the possibility of observation and measurement replaces the essence or quiddity which philosophy seeks in things."(16) As we have seen, Jung felt there was something underlying the phenomena, but this something could not become the object of scrutiny of his science. He grasped that "something" indirectly through his observations.

Maritain divided the empiriological sciences into two broad categories: the empiriometrical and the empirioschematic. The empiriometrical "are materially physical and formally mathematical", that is, they studied the sensible or physical real from the point of view of mathematics and its laws. Modern physics is the chief example of an empiriometrical science. It starts from the physical world in as far as it is measurable, and submits this data to the world of mathematics and, finally, checks its conclusions, again in relationship to what is measurable. The empirioschematic sciences, on the other hand, deal with observable aspects of the physical real more than with measurable ones, and they create their hypotheses on the basis of these observations and verify them by means of further observation. Biology and psychology tend towards the empirioschematic type of science, and Jung's psychology is best viewed as one of these empirioschematic sciences.

There has been a certain amount of tension between a psychology that has been conceived empiriometrically and Jung's empirioschematic psychology, and I have touched on this question in relationship to psychological types elsewhere.(17) Both psychological sciences can cover the same subject matter, but each in its distinctive fashion. This does not mean, however, they will reach identical conclusions, exhibit the same degree of competence or undergo the same attractions. When properly employed, they complement each other, yet because of the very nature of biology and psychology, the empirioschematic approach will go further than the empiriometrical one. As Jung puts it: "...the more we turn from spacial phenomena to the nonspaciality of the psyche, the more impossible it becomes to determine anything by exact measurements." (18) Maritain expresses basically this same point of view: " one rises above the world proper to physics, and as the object gains in ontological richness and perfection, the quantitative aspect of the behavior under consideration becomes, not less real, but less significant and more subordinate, and the science in question less reducible to an interpretation which looks solely to mathematics for its form and laws."(19)

If there has been difficulty among empirical psychologists because of the diversity of methods employed, this difficulty is small when compared to trying to bring together an empirical psychology and a philosophical psychology such as exists as part of a philosophy of nature. Here, again, two psychologies are looking at the same things, but under different aspects. The empirioschematic psychology sees "a stream of sense appearances stabilized by a center of intelligibility", while the philosophical psychology sees "an intelligible object expressing itself through a stream of sense appearances". (20) Jung's psychology is dealing with sensible being, but as observable, while the philosophy of nature "deals with sensible being, but deals with it first and foremost as intelligible". (2 1) This philosophical psychology is built upon philosophical facts, but instead of these facts leading to hypotheses to be verified in terms of the observable, they lead towards the intelligible center or essence of things, though it rarely attains this essence with any clarity.

A psychologist with an empirioschematic approach like Jung's can find himself in a difficult position. While he is attracted by modern physics and berated by his empiriometrically-oriented colleagues for his unscientific approach, he sees no way in which he can quantify his most important psychological conceptions. He can't subordinate his psychology to the language of mathematics. At the same time, the very nature of his observations and his work with people suffering from a lack of meaning leads him to formulate concepts like archetype and self, while his scientific methods precludes his knowing these things in themselves. Further, as was the case with Jung, his implicit philosophical presuppositions led him toward the unsubstantiated conclusion that no knowledge of things in themselves is possible under any method. The empirioschematic psychologist or biologist, by the very nature of the subject matter of their science, will be led to ask "metaphenomenal questions to which they might try to reply with their own conceptual equipment and their proper methods of analysis; then they will obtain in most favorable cases and by indirect paths and the delimitation of unknowns solutions that resemble philosophical solutions and are tangential to them".(22) This process is illustrated in Jung's work by his formulation of the concept of the self or the psychoid foundation of phenomena. Just as there is an implicit realism in Jung's work, there is an implicit attraction towards the philosophy of nature, and the inverse is true as well. The philosophy of nature is attracted to an empirical psychology that will be broad enough and daring enough to view the psyche or soul as a whole from the point of view of phenomena while it itself tries to view it from the aspect of essence or intelligible center, that is, attempts to answer the question of what the soul is in itself.

The attraction of Jung's psychology to philosophy, even if it became explicit, would not at all dilute the autonomous vocabulary and methodology of this psychology. Philosophical ideas or methods coming from a philosophical psychology could not enter into the actual constitution of an empirical science. Yet the principles coming from the philosophy of nature could act "as regulative principles, as directive principles, orienting thought and research, but not entering into the very structure of these sciences themselves."(23) Jung's psychology is burdened with a philosophical position even though he did not wish to philosophize. He did not have to philosophize in order to carry out his scientific activity, yet out of the awareness of the validity of his own method he doubted the validity of the methods of philosophy and theology. This left him with the enormous task of trying to reconstruct from the point of view of his own methodology the realities and questions that were once dealt with by these other disciplines. We have to recognize the possibility that there can be a difference between a psychological treatment of these realities, which was the gift of his method, and the need to reinterpret these realities that sprang from Jung's belief that philosophy and theology had no sure way of knowing, no way of doing science. just as there is no need to deny the validity of an empirioschematic psychology in order to justify an empiriometric one, there is no need to deny the possibility and existence of a philosophical psychology in order to protect the autonomy of an empirioschematic psychology. It is at the very limits or boundaries, the interface of psychology and theology, where Jung's psychology is led to make its boldest assertions and its most sweeping hypotheses, and it is here that it would benefit from the climate created by an authentic philosophy of nature. It could then realize, though not in the proper texture of its conceptual lexicon, the fittingness of its own concepts which are empiriological reflections of realities that can also be viewed from the ontological point of view. It would be relieved of the burden of an idealistic philosophy that tends to close it in upon itself and negate the currents of realism that run through all genuine scientific activity.

There are several aspects of Jung's psychology which can be interpreted as showing the effects of this effort of reinterpretation. First of all, it feels a certain attraction to modern physics, especially microphysics. Yet this attraction remains largely inefficacious because of the distinctive differences of method between Jung's psychology and mathematical physics. Both the psychologist and the physicist can agree that each, in his own way, is being led to the borders of metaphysics. The assertion that there is an archetypal foundation to both is an expression of their convergence towards metaphysics. Yet this convergence does not rest on any unity of methodology, but rather on the role metaphysics could play in the unification of the ways of knowing. Unfortunately, as we have said, there are many reasons why the scientist will not accept the possibility of there being a genuine metaphysics, and the idea that a philosophy of nature is a more suitable companion for Jungian psychology than physics remains unthinkable.

To take another example, Jung's explorations in alchemy served a genuine role in the validation of his hypothesis about the central role of the process of individuation in the economy of the psyche. There is, however, another way in which Jung's strong attraction for alchemy can be viewed. From the point of view of his own methodology the phenomena could never fully grasp the archetype. There remained, then, a hunger for a deeper and fuller contact that could only be assuaged, and only momentarily, by more and more examples and manifestations of the underlying archetypal reality. In short, there may well be in Jung's historical explorations of alchemy an element of inefficacious desire to explore the foundations of the archetypes in themselves. This seems to be the best explanation of Jung's statement about his culminating work on alchemy:

"In Mysterium Coniunctionis my psychology was at last given its place in reality and established upon its historical foundations. Thus my task was finished, my work done, and now it can stand. The moment I touched bottom, I reached the bounds of scientific understanding, the transcendental, the nature of the archetype per se, concerning which no further scientific statements can be made."(24)

Another example of this proliferation of the empirioschematic method at the very frontier between empirical psychology and philosophical psychology can be found in Jung's reflections about life after death. He recognized that there was a hunger in men for certain kinds of knowledge like that dealing with the question of life after death that outstripped the resources of the methodology of his psychology. Jung accepted this as a legitimate human need, but since the epistemological limitations inherent in his science were accepted by him as the personal limits of his own knowledge, he could not turn to philosophy or theology to try to formulate an answer, while his instinctive realism and profound contact with the psyche urged him to address these questions anyway. And so he looked to dreams and myths in order to form some conception of life after death. It is as if he had explored his psychological science to its limits, but now was constrained to try to exceed these limits because of the importance of these questions that fall outside the scope of his science. What he did was accumulate the hints that entered his own domain and framed a hypothesis which remained unprovable. His reflections on life after death are an application of the models that prove efficacious in terms of the exploration of the unconscious, projected into the realm of the dead; Jung is speaking again of the basic process of individuation, but extending it further and further since there was no philosophy or theology he could collaborate with.


The question of the relationship of Jung's psychology to the philosophy of nature which we have looked at from the epistemological point of view should not lead us to believe that such theoretical discussions are without practical ramifications. Many of the same issues surfaced in the relationship between Dr. Jung and Fr. Victor White, who made the first serious attempt to start building the bridge that would overcome the chasm between Thomistic philosophy and Jung's psychology. Their relationship, then, becomes a paradigm of the problems that beset the use of Jung's psychology within the context of Christian theology, and the difficulties in which their relationship fell serve as a warning to a too facile amalgamation of these two disciplines.

When late in life Jung turned to an intensive study of Catholic dogma, he very much wanted to have a Catholic theologian as a companion and colleague in the exploration of the relationship between his psychology and Catholic theology. The man who appeared on the scene at the opportune moment was Victor White, a Dominican priest with an excellent background in Thomistic philosophy and theology, and a keen interest in Jung's psychology. Before he had come in direct contact with Jung he had been part of a group of psychotherapists and clergy who had met at Oxford under the leadership of John Layard.(25) It was to this group that White addressed his first paper on Jung's psychology entitled "On the Frontiers of Theology and Psychology", and it was under Layard who was a Jungian psychotherapist that he gained some practical experience of Jung's psychology. Victor White combined a genuine sympathy for Jung's psychology with a firm grasp of scholastic philosophy and theology and an awareness of how beneficial it would be to bring the two together. In September, 1945, he sent Jung some copies of his first publications in this area. At the time lung was 70 years old and about to embark on his most important writings on Christianity, e.g., his study on the Trinity, and the Answer to Job, while Fr. White had written his initial article three years previously at age 40, that crucial time of new beginnings.

Jung's response was untypically warm and extensive. He wrote: "You are the only theologian I know of who has really understood something of what the problem of psychology in our present world means. You have seen its enormous implications. I cannot tell you how glad I am that I know a man, a theologian, who is conscientious enough to weigh my opinions on the basis of a careful study of my writings!"(26)

Even if we read into this a certain ex tension of courtesies, there is much more involved here; Jung had a genuine desire for contact with Catholic theology, but he needed a theologian who could appreciate the nature of his psychology. "As a rule they are astonishingly innocent of actual psychological experience..." and he goes on to say, "I envy you and all those enjoying full possession of Scholastic philosophy and I would surely be among the first to welcome an explicit attempt to integrate the findings of psychology into the ecclesiastical doctrine."(27) Jung ends this letter, "Well - a long letter! Not my style at all. "It" has made an exception in your case, my dear Father, because "it" has appreciated your conscientious and farsighted work."(28)

Fr. White decided to visit Jung in the summer of 1946, and Jung invited him to stay with him at his "little country place". This was Jung's tower at Bollingen that was connected with his inner work, and to bring Victor White there was to extend a special invitation to intimacy.

The visit touched them both deeply. Jung had "all sorts of feelings or "hunches" about Fr. White (29) who, for his part, recounted a dream "in which he was sailing with Jung at the helm, from Norway to England. They were passing through perilous rocks at great speed, but* there was no feeling of fear "because the wind was taking care of us."(30)

Jung summed up the new level of their relationship: "We are indeed on an adventurous and dangerous journey"' (31) As Fr. White's dream indicates, he had embarked on a journey into the unconscious, and this was to entail a serious struggle to attempt to bring this psychological experience into line with his theological understanding. At the same time, Jung was undergoing the inverse process, that is, to bring his psychological understanding into relationship with theology. Towards the end of this letter he says, "Presently I must make up my mind to tackle my dangerous paper about the psychology of the H. Trinity." (32) This must have been a difficult decision and a strain on both his body and psyche. Less than two weeks later he suffered a serious heart attack.

The joint process of exploration continued over the next several years, with both men recounting their dreams. Some of the material, for example, in Jung's letters, was not to appear in full form until Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Jung was resolutely moving ahead and articulating his thoughts on Christianity. These years saw the writing of his expanded version of his paper on the Holy Trinity, Aion, and finally, the Answer to Job, and Fr. White's paper on Gnosticism stimulated Jung to ask, "Have I faith or a faith or not?"(33) His answer is important, for from it we can gauge what this process of drawing psychology and theology together meant for him:

"I have always been unable to produce faith and I have tried so hard that I finally did not know anymore what faith is or means. I owe it to your paper that I have now apparently an answer: faith or the equivalent of faith for me is what I would call respect."(34)

This respect is an "involuntary assumption" for Jung because there is something to dogmatic truth that induces it in him, even though he doesn't understand it, and his life has been an attempt to understand what others can apparently believe. But if there is something about Christian truth that causes this respect, there is something about Buddhism and Taoism that brings it about as well.

Even though Jung had to overcome strong resistances in order to express his feelings about Christianity, when he expressed himself it was not in any radically new fashion, but rather, the articulation of insights that had preoccupied him his whole life, and now had reached mature form. His relationship with Fr. White, while it might have been a minor catalyst, does not seem to have added any new content to Jung's religious views.

While Jung was forging ahead, Victor White began to face mounting difficulties. The precise nature of these difficulties is hard to determine without the publication of his letters, and with the deletions that exist in Jung's letters to him. Apparently Fr. White was beset by a feeling of isolation which resulted from his growing psychological perception in an ecclesiastical atmosphere that had little appreciation of it. But undoubtedly the problem went deeper than this. White's reconciliation of his priestly and Psychological roles was not simply a matter of his external position in the Church, but the problem was a personal one as well: could he reconcile Jung's religious ideas that he was getting more and more conversant with and involved in with his Catholic faith? These interior difficulties began to crystallize around the problem of evil, the privatio boni. Towards the end of 1949, in a review of what was to become a section of Aion, he criticized Jung's quasi-Manichean dualism" and his "somewhat confused and confusing pages" in relationship to the privatio boni.

Jung's response was uncharacteristically mild, and he went so far as to footnote White's criticisms in the text of Aion, calling him "my learned friend". In a letter of response, he attempts to clarify the problem:

"The question of Good and Evil, so far as I am concerned with it, has nothing to do with metaphysics; it is only a concern of psychology. I make no metaphysical assertions and even in my heart I am no Neo-Manichean; on the contrary I am deeply convinced of the unity of the self, as demonstrated by the mandala symbolism."(35)

Jung is afraid that if evil is looked upon as non-being, "nobody will take his own shadow seriously... The future of mankind very much depends upon the recognition of the shadow. Evil is - psychologically speaking - terribly real. It is a fatal mistake to diminish its power and reality even merely metaphysically. I am sorry, this goes to the very roots of Christianity." (36)

Jung's position from a psychological perspective is clear and understandable, and it is puzzling that Fr. White would misinterpret it as a quasi-Manichean dualism if he were viewing it simply from this point of view. But there is something more at stake here. When Jung says, "It is a fatal mistake to diminish its power and reality even merely metaphysically. I am sorry, this goes to the very roots of Christianity", we have a premonition of the thoughts that were to blossom in the Answer to Job. Does the phrase "merely metaphysically" suffer under the same defects as the expression Jung so disliked of "nothing but"? Does Jung mean that metaphysics must look to psychology for the way it describes evil, or metaphysics is merely a reflection of psychological truth, or finally, the dualism of good and evil goes to the roots of Christianity and psychology is faced with the unpleasant task of putting things back together again? Thus, if Jung is uneasy about the problem of evil from a psychological point of view, Fr. White is disquieted when he views the metaphysical implications of Jung's statements. The problem of the privatio boni rests on the foundation of the question of the relationship between Jung's psychology and metaphysics. Jung wanted to keep to his psychological point of view, and thus he says, "Your metaphysical thinking "posits" mine doubts, i.e., it weighs mere names for insufficiently known (substances)." (37) He goes on to say that he can only assimilate a "substance", but substance in this case has nothing to do with substance in the philosophical sense, but it is simply the ground and guarantee of phenomena. There must be something underlying the phenomena and giving it coherence. He accuses Fr. White of being able to deal with a concept like non-being because White is concerned only with conceptual existence and not with real things, and he concludes, "That is, I suppose, the reason why the unconscious turns for you into a system of abstract conceptions." (38) This same line of reasoning appears in a letter to Gebhard Frei in which Jung sees a "clash between scientific and epistemological thinking on the one hand and theological and metaphysical thinking on the other."(39) Jung feels that his "critics actually believe only in words, without knowing it, and then think they have posited God."(40) The theologians, in Jung's mind, mistake their concepts for real things, while Jung feels he rightly limits himself to the Imago Dei: "My thinking is substantive, but theological-metaphysical thinking is in constant danger ... of operating with substanceless words and imagining that the reality corresponding to them is then seated in Heaven."(41)

Jung never viewed the privatio boni from a metaphysical point of view, and he had no wish to do so and no appreciation that there could be a legitimate metaphysical point of view, and while Fr. White sometimes criticized Jung's psychological conceptions in a philosophical light, and thus misconstrued them, he was also fighting to preserve the ground on which he stood. If there is no legitimate metaphysical or theological point of view, how could he maintain his Catholic faith?

Jung's discussion with White continued at great length, but without ever overcoming this misunderstanding. In June of 1952 Jung wrote about the problem of the privatio boni: "The crux seems to lie in the contamination of the two incongruous notions of Good and of Being. If you assume, as I do, that Good is a moral judgment and not substantial in itself, then Evil is its opposite and just as non-substantial as the first. If however you assume that Good is Being, then Evil can be nothing else than Non-Being."(42) This is an excellent summary of the problem. Jung finds that good and evil as moral judgments are obvious facts, but, "There is not the faintest evidence for the identity of Good and Being."(43) Here the difficulty is precisely the question of what kind of evidence. Psychological facts are not metaphysical facts, and evidence for empirical psychology is not evidence for metaphysics.

Later that summer Victor White again stayed at Jung's retreat at Bollingen,' but apparently this discussion was deadlocked. After this visit their correspondence began to ebb away. Jung's few letters to Fr. White seem to come as responses to Fr. White's own, which appear to deal with his deepening conflict between his role in the Church and his adherence to Jung's psychology. Jung answered these letters at length, elaborating his notions on the nature of the Godhead from his distinctive point of view. Far from encouraging Fr. White to leave his position in the Church, he developed arguments for the value of Fr. White's work within the institutional setting. At the same time, unwittingly, he could have made Victor White's inner struggles more difficult. Despite Jung's affirmations that he is not interested in making metaphysical statements, the impact of his statements about God, precisely because he does not think that either metaphysics or theology is a viable way of knowing, can create the impression in the Catholic reader that this interpretation of the nature of God is incompatible with Catholic faith. It stands as a radical alternative to the traditional understanding because it at once limits itself to the psychological point of view, while at the same time negates the epistemological validity of knowing through faith. There is a very good chance that Fr. White was living out this difficulty. He was aware of the power and value of Jung's psychology, and the need the Catholic Church had of it, but try as he may, he could not swallow the implicit philosophical implications.

Jung, in a letter to E.V. Tenney, in February 1955, gives his view of Fr. White's problem:

"Another aspect of this concretism is the rigidity of scholastic philosophy, through which Father White is wriggling as well as he can. He is at bottom an honest and sincere man who cannot but admit the importance of psychology, but the trouble is that he gets into an awful stew about it. Analytical psychology unfortunately just touches the vulnerable spot of the church, viz. the untenable concretism of its beliefs, and the syllogistic character of Thomistic philosophy. This is of course a terrific snag, but - one could almost say - fortunately people are unaware of the clashing contrasts. Father White, however, is by no means unconscious of those clashes; it is a very serious personal problem to him."(44)

Is this "untenable concretism" no less the belief on the part of the Catholics that God, Jesus, Mary, etc., can be known in some measure in themselves through revelation?

This "awful stew" of Fr. White, which was an epistemological one, is probably what gave birth to his intemperate criticisms of Jung's Answer to Job. In contrast to his initial enthusiastic reception of the book, in his review of the English translation he asks whether: "Jung is pulling our leg or is duped by some Satanic trickster into purposefully torturing his friends and devotees."(45) "Or is he, more rationally, purposefully putting them to the test to discover how much they will stand rather than admit the fallibility of their master..."(46) This public outburst was more than enough to break their already fragile relationship.

For Jung it was a real disappointment and, no doubt, a blow to his feelings especially because of the affection he had lavished on Fr. White: "As there are so few men capable of understanding the deeper implications of our psychology, I had nursed the apparently vain hope that Fr. Victor would carry on the magnum opus."(47)

After 1955 they drifted apart, only to try to draw together again at the time of Fr. White's last illness. Old feelings of affection had endured during the intervening years, but there was still no new understanding from either side to break the impasse. Victor White died on the 22nd of May, 1960.

The effect of reading Jung's letters to Victor White is one of sympathy for both men. When we see Jung, for example, trying to write a letter to Fr. White from his sick bed after his almost fatal heart attack, we cannot help but feel the intensity of his desire to make contact with him, and through him, to wrestle with his own fate of trying to bring his inner experiences into relationship with Christian thought. Neither can we withhold our sympathy for Fr. White if we imagine him in the tower at Bollingen, listening to Jung's discussions about God that had all the power of immediate experience and the conviction that comes from it. The deeper Victor White entered into Jung's world, the more the tension grew between his Catholic faith, strengthened and elaborated by his theological work, and Jung's religious views. His espousal of Jung's psychology was costing him dearly in the ecclesiastical world in which he lived, but it was creating even more serious problems within.

In summary, the valuable discoveries that Jung made are wrapped in accidental philosophical and religious attitudes. Jung's statements on the scope of our ability to know should be interpreted only in relationship to his natural science of the psyche and not extended to philosophy or theology. Once the distinction is made between the essence of his work and the context it developed in, the way is open to employ it as an instrument in Christian theology. Two dangers can then be avoided, that is, to treat his psychology as a substitute for theology or to reject it outright as a danger to it.



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Chapter 3