Jung: rational views

October 20, 2000

In his review of books on the philosophy and psychology of consciousness, Jeffrey Gray attributes the phrase "New Mysterians" to Daniel Dennett (Books, THES, October 13). Philosopher Owen Flanagan introduced the phrase, as Dennett makes quite clear in Consciousness Explained .

More disturbingly, in reviewing Understanding Consciousness by Max Velmans, Gray writes that "after a perfectly rational 7 pages, we suddenly trip over Carl Jung", implying that the label "Jungian" is one of the biggest insults one can accord the rationalist. To be automatically scathing about ideas simply because they come from a psychologist with whom Gray may have little sympathy speaks of irrationality.

Jung's ideas may or may not have contained solecisms, but it is far more rational to examine these ideas carefully and judge their merits rather than dismiss them.

On the same page an advertisement for a book co-authored by Jungian analyst Anthony Stevens appeared. Initially obscurantist as some Jungian concepts may appear, Stevens's work indicates how a little conceptual revision (eg use of the terms "phylogenetic consciousness" and "innate neuropsychic units" in place of "collective unconscious" and "archetypes") can transform them into a conceptual language that gives them a much closer affinity with mainstream behavioural and social science (and, therefore, with presumably more "rational" discourse in the eyes of the likes of Gray).

I suggest that Gray reads Stevens's An Intelligent Person's Guide to Psychotherapy . It may not make Gray agree with Jung, but could help his attempts to appraise Jung become more rational.

Anthony C. Edwards

Division of psychology

University College Northampton

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