September 28, 2010 Leave a comment
Carl Jung, the great analytical psychologist, coined the term “collective unconscious” to describe the part of the unconscious mind which he believed was separate from the personal unconscious and which was shared by all members of a particular species. It is collective, universal, and impersonal. Jung believed it is the reason that human beings from all over the world and throughout history have similar dreams and thoughts, create similar religions, and use similar symbols, even without any direct connections.
Central to the idea of collective unconscious is the concept of archetypes. Archetypes are universal prototypes for ideas and can be used to interpret observations and dreams. Archetypes are the main inhabitants of the collective unconscious and have been a constant companion to humanity since time immemorial. Examples of Jungian archetypes are the Shadow, the Anima & Animus, the Hero, the Devil, and others.
Jung was not the only one to propose such an idea. Plato’s theory of Forms or theory of Ideas was very similar, asserting that abstract forms or ideas, rather than the material world around us, possessed the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. Charles Darwin talked about “social instincts,” which he believed came about because of natural selection. Emile Durkeim, in books like The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912), discussed “collective representations,” which were ideas, beliefs, and values held by a community or other large group and which were not reducible to individual constituents.
So, why name my blog Collective Unconscious? I’ve long been fascinated with the collective unconscious, archetypes, and other Jungian concepts. I’m currently unsure exactly what I believe about the validity of Jung’s ideas, especially as I venture farther along the paths of Freethought and Secular Humanism, but I’m committed to “following the evidence wherever it leads.” Despite my current feelings about God, the universe, and the meaning (or lack thereof) of life, I can’t escape the idea that there is something linking all of mankind together. I’d like to explore that idea in this blog, as well as other thoughts and blasphemies as they come to me.
The collective unconscious, to me, represents that no matter how different we all are, what race we are or the color of our skin, no matter what God we worship or choose not to worship, human beings are more alike than most of us realize. I hope you’ll join me on my journey of discovery.