unconscious

Linked Glossary of Terms
(references to De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, unless indicated. See concordance for correlation with pages in the New Critique. The concordance is in pdf format.)

collective knowledge NC II, 594
collective unconscious
depth psychology Grenzen van het theoretisch denken (Baarn: Ambo, 1986
personal unconscious
unconscious Grenzen van het theoretisch denken (Baarn: Ambo, 1986

The term ‘collective unconscious’ is used by C.G. Jung. What is not generally known is that Baader anticipated many of Jung’s ideas; Baader also refers to the unconscious. Jung had knowledge of Baader’s writings, as is evidenced by the Index to Jung’s Collected Works.

Baader’s emphasizes our inner intuition. But he also refers to the unconscious. He says that supernaturalists separate the will from its unconscious drives, and they regard the creature as pure Intelligence, as a Will and a Reason without desires or senses (Begründung 34). Baader also uses the term ‘shadow’ long before Jung. The conscious being cannot exist save for the unconscious; light cannot exist except by the shadows; we do not serve the flame well if we remove the black carbon, or the plant if we take out its subterranean roots (Werke I, 66).

Sauer comments that in Baader, the movement from the self to the Gegenstand breaks the homogeneous but unconscious unity in which the subject finds himself; it is an emancipation from the Quasi-Totality of the factical, unquestioned and unconscious; instead, the Gegenstand is ordered in a conceptual world [Begriffswelt] (Sauer, 25,26). Spirit is conscious; nature unconscious (Begründung 33).

Baader says that true genius is unconscious, instinctive; this is an independent activity (Fermenta IV, 12)

Dooyeweerd also refers to the unconscious and to depth psychology. In Grenzen van het theoretisch denken (Baarn: Ambo, 1986), Dooyeweerd refers to two layers of the act-life, as shown by depth psychology (Freud and his school). He says that there is an unconscious underlayer and a conscious layer above [bovenlaag]. As an example of unconscious knowledge he refers to our remembering a name.He says that consciousness is not limited to the psychical and the later aspects:

Het bewustzijn is niet, zoals men vroeger meende, beperkt tot het psychische aspect en de na-psychische aspecten van het menselijke bestaan, waarbij men alle voor-psychische aspecten tot het onbewuste rekende. Bewust-zijn en onbewust-zijn zijn veeleer twee openbaringswijzen van een en dezelfde werkelijkehid, die in alle aspecten zonder onderscheid fungeren. Het menselijk bewustzijn omvat, juist omdat het geconcentreerd is in een zelfbewistzijn, alle aspecten van de werkelijkheid; anders zou de vraag hoe deze aspecten in het menselijke bewustzijn zouden kunnen komen, onoplosbaar zijn. Maar ook het onbewuste fungeert in alle aspecten zonder onderscheid. Zo is vastgesteld, dat het menselijk act-leven zijn eigenlijke continuiteit dankt aan het onbewuste.

[Consciousness is not, as was earlier supposed, limited to the psychical and post-psychical aspects of human existence, by which all pre-psychical aspects were considered as the unconscious. Being conscious and being unconscious are rather two modes of revelation of one and the same reality, which functions in all aspects without distinction. Human consciousness comprehends all aspects of reality, just because it is concentrated in a self-consciousness. Otherwise the question of how these aspects could come to human consciousness would not arise, and would be insoluble. But also the unconscious functions in all aspects without distinction. So it is established that the human life of acts owes its continuity to the unconscious].

This is really a remarkable passage. The continuity of our experience is based in the unconscious. We experience this continuity in naive experience. That would indicate that naive experience can be considered in some ways as unconscious. Although we can naively experience the coherence of the aspects, we are not aware of the separate aspects in our naive experience. Thus, there is a kind of unconsciousness here that becomes more conscious in theory.

It is interesting that Vollenhoven’s ‘Divergentierapport‘ expresses the fear that Dooyeweerd’s views will be compared with those of Jung.

If the supratemporal cannot be expressed in concepts, then to some extent, we may regard this inner-ness as unconscious. It needs to be deepened. We then acquire a “cosmic consciousness.”

Dooyeweerd also has a view of a collective knowledge that goes beyond the individual ego:

My individual cognitive activity, both in a theoretical and in a pre-theoretical sense, is borne by an immensely more comprehensive and specialized subjective knowledge on the part of human society. This knowledge has been acquired by the successive generations of mankind. It is in the possession of human society and is not equal to the sum of actual knowledge of all individuals together in the present and the past. Nor does it cancel all personal individuality and genius in cognitive activity. The theoretical knowledge of mankind has for the greater part been objectified in a structure that makes it independent of the momentary actual individual insight of individual human beings.(NC II, 594).

His view that this common knowledge is not just the sum of individual knowledge shows a remarkable resemblance to Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious.

We may also view the supratemporal as in some ways similar to a collective unconscious in that it is supra-individual. The view of Ground-Motives as a supra-individual drive is also somewhat similar in that it is something of which we do not need to be conscious. It is also expressed in communities. Further research is required for these issues.

I discuss these issues in more detail in my article Imagination, Image of God and Wisdom of God: Theosophical Themes in Dooyeweerd’s Philosophy,” (2006).

But there are also significant differences from Jung’s psychology. This can be seen in Jung’s denial of the Archimedean point, an idea that is important for Dooyeweerd’s view of the self. Jung says,

There is no Archimedean point from which to judge, since the mind is indistinguishable from its manifestations. The mind is the object of psychology, and-fatally enough-also its subject. There is no getting away from this fact. – (Psychology and Religion, CW 11, para. 18).

However, Jung may only have been objecting to an Archimedean point outside of the psyche (See Psychology and Relgion, 1938, para. 140, fn 27). The psyche itself does act as an Archimedean point. In comparison with the temporal ego, the supratemporal psyche does provide an Archimedean point from which we can view our suffering This Archimedean point outside the ego is “the objective standpoint of the self, from which the ego can be seen as a phenomenon. Without the objectivization of the self the ego would remain caught in hopeless subjectivity and would only gyrate round itself.”(“Transformation Symbolism in the Mass,” CW 11, para. 427-428).

Although both Jung and Dooyeweerd emphasize a supratemporal selfhood, they use the term in different ways. Jung’s approach involves a reciprocal approach between the selfhood and a temporal ego, whereas Dooyeweerd follows Franz von Baader in the idea of the supratemporal heart as our true selfhood, for which our body is the temporal instrument. Perhaps we can make some analogy between a temporal ego and the temporal act structure, which for Dooyeweerd is one of the four enkaptically interlaced individuality structures that together make up the body. Our transcendent selfhood should not be identified with any of these structures. It should be noted that Dooyeweerd denies that the selfhood can be an “object” that can be investigated by psychology or any other theoretical discipline; rather, the supratemporal selfhood is the ontical condition for any theoretical thought at all. Here, Dooyeweerd follows Baader’s critique of the autonomy of theoretical thought. Although he is sometimes ambiguous, Jung generaly remains within the Kantian acceptance of such autonomy. In my 2005 series of lectures on C.G. Jung, I argue that Baader provides a clearer explanation of several ideas where Jung is ambiguous or incorrect (such as his interpretation of Boehme and Eckhart, particularly with respect to the issues of God and evil, and whether the dynamic movement within God is to be pantheistically identified with development of man’s consciousness). I believe that Dooyeweerd follows and expands upon Baader’s tradition of Christian theosophy, and that these ideas provide the basis for significant insights in psychology.

Kuyper refers to our unconscious life: As mere entities we share our life with plants and animals. Unconscious life we share with the children, and with the sleeping man, and even with the man who has lost his reason (“Calvinism and Religion,” 56).

Bavinck has some notion of the unconscious. He says that man tries to give direction to his life by his consciousness, but that life itself has its origin in the depth of his personality (Stone Lectures, “Revelation and Religious Experience,” 1909, page 215)

Abhishiktananda refers to our depths in this same inner way. The appendix to my thesis shows the relation of Abhishiktananda’s ideas to those of Jung.

Revised Sept 20/08; Dec 24/16