common aspects between anthropological and psychoanalytic thought

common aspects between anthropological and psychoanalytic thought

A Brief Comparison of the Unconscious as Seen by Jung and L�evi-Strauss

g iu sep pe iurato University of Palermo,

ab stract

Retracing the primary common aspects between anthropological and psychoanalytic thought, in this article, we will further discuss the main common points between the notions of the unconscious according to Carl Gustav Jung and Claude L�evi-Strauss, taking into account the thought of Erich Neumann. On the basis of very simple elementary logic considerations centered around the basic notion of the separation of opposites, our observations might be useful for speculations on the possible origins of rational thought and hence on the origins of consciousness. k e yword s : analytical psychology, structural anthropology, unconscious, archetype, classical logic

In the beginning, all the things were together; then, it came the mind (�o υοὓf) and set them in order

—Anaxagoras of Clazomenæ (Diogenes Lærtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, Book 2, Chap. III)

Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) and Claude L�evi-Strauss (1908–2009) were two of the greatest thinkers and scholars of the last century. The former was an eminent psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, the first pupil of Sigmund Freud and then the founder of a new school of psychoanalytic thought called analytical psychology. The latter was an eminent anthropologist and ethnologist, as well

Anthropology of Consciousness, Vol. 26, Issue 1, pp. 60–107, ISSN 1053-4202, © 2015 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.1111/anoc.12032




as one of the primary leaders of French structuralism; he also made funda- mental contributions to philosophy and psychology. A brief sketch of the main lines of their thought will be outlined and compared in the following sections; in this section, we wish to simply outline the reasons and purposes for which we invoke them in this article. Jung was one of the main connoisseurs and supporters of Freudian

thought, having been, for many years, one of Freud’s closest co-workers. Nev- ertheless, he believed that the entire Freudian framework was not very open toward other possible applicative perspectives such as, for instance, those related to anthropological and ethnological thought, in particular toward mythological thought, although these perspectives also played a fundamental role in the foundation of Freudian thought itself. So, Jung decided to approach part of Freudian thought by placing a major emphasis on these new perspectives, reaching an original and appreciative line of thought with a notable interdisciplinary valence. From this viewpoint, it is more than likely that there are common themes

between psychoanalytic and anthropological thought. Moreover, the efficient results of Jungian psychotherapeutic praxis (Laughlin and Tiberia 2012) might be taken as indirect proof of the validity of the anthropological ideas that contributed to creating the Jungian theoretical framework, including certain L�evi-Straussian ideas that will be briefly recalled herein. More than any other perspective, Jungian thought has played a fundamental role in explaining the possible origins of consciousness (Laughlin and Tiberia 2012). In this article, we would like to revisit some aspects of the known critical comparison between Jungian and L�evi-Straussian thought while also trying to enlarge this comparative debate using very elementary concepts of classical logic. In doing so, it will also be possible to elucidate some fundamental aspects of human conscious reasoning, in particular, its early origins. To be precise, as we will see, the L�evi-Straussian and Jungian systems of thought have many common theoretical backgrounds (D’Aquili 1975); for example, the L�evy-Bru- hl work on primitive compared with civilized thought has been included in their theoretical systems. The current anthropological viewpoints say that the only possible differences between these last two should be searched for in the different qualitative use of the primary rules of logic rather than in quan- titative modalities. According to our final considerations, it is in the lack of some of these very basic logic rules that the substantial differences between these two types of thought may be retraced. This lack confirms some assump- tions made by both L�evi-Strauss and Jung on the origins of conscious human thought, which we would like to descry in the occurrence of the fundamen- tal dialectic operation of the separation of opposites. In short, the primary conclusion of this article is that elementary Aristotelian logic, with its very

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elementary arguments, also corroborates these common L�evi-Straussian and Jungian assumptions about the early origins of consciousness. For an updated re-evaluation of Jung’s thought and its influence on the

anthropology of consciousness, also with the support of the clinical work of the authors, see the basic article by Charles Laughlin and Vincenza Tiberia (2012). In this very interesting work, which further highlights the fundamental importance of analytical psychology in anthropology, Jung’s approach to con- sciousness is presented from a more modern neuropsychological standpoint (Laughlin having been, with Eugene G. D’Aquili, one of the founders of the so-called biogenetic structuralism, a new perspective in psychological anthro- pology that takes neuroscience results into account). Laughlin and Tiberia (2012) also explain why Jungian anthropology has been ignored.


on some key moment s in the h i s tor y of p s ychoanal y s i s , ma inl y freud and jung

In this section, we want to highlight only those aspects of the historical evo- lution of psychoanalysis that have some relation to the arguments of this arti- cle. The primary intent of this section and those following (most in the Appendix) is to outline the aspects of this evolution that have led to psycho- analytic anthropology, the primary context within which this article has been worked out. In pursuing this intent, we mainly follow one of the primary ref- erences on the history of psychoanalysis (i.e., Ellenberger 1970). Along with Henri Ellenberger’s text, we also follow the biographical dictionary of Aldo Carotenuto (1991), in which a brief but systematic recall of the primary lines of thought of each thinker is also presented together with minimal biographi- cal notes. For further outlines of some other aspects of psychoanalytic theo- ries primarily concerning the thought of Jung and of Erich Neumann, we refer to the final Appendix to this article.

Fleshing Out Freudian Thought Freudian thought evolved from a 20-year pre-psychoanalytic period of gesta- tion, primarily characterized by a neurological and psychophysical viewpoint, toward a pure psychological model. Through attempts to dynamically explain neuroses, Freud reached the first phase of his metapsychological theory, which was centered around the notions of the unconscious, repression, drives, and the free-association method. The second phase was characterized by new notions of transference and counter transference and by the libido theory of infant sexuality, which in turn centered on the Oedipus complex, which became the central pillar of his psychodynamic framework. In the years 1914–1915, Freudian theory underwent a new reorganization in its

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theoretical structure, initially from a topographical standpoint, with the topography given first by the static constructs of the unconscious, precon- scious, and conscious; then from a dynamic standpoint, with various psychic conflicts; and finally from an economic standpoint, with the principles of pleasure and reality. In the 1920s, the theory underwent another revision regarding the theory of drives and their classifications, until it reached a sec- ond definitive topography including the Ego, Super-Ego, and Id (or Es) agencies. Freud’s last work was the magnificent 1938 Abriß der Psychoanalyse in which he axiomatically tried to sketch his definitive vision of the structure of human psychodynamics.

On Jungian Thought, Part One Carl Gustav Jung started as a psychiatrist at the Zurich Burgh€olzli Hospital under the supervision of Eugene Bleuler in the early 1900s. He then attended the Janet’s lessons at the Paris Salpêtri�ere Hospital until his pivotal meeting with Freud in 1906. Thenceforth, the close and deep relationship between Freud and Jung led to Jung’s appointment as the first president of the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) in 1909. The first signifi- cant disagreements between their ideas started with Jung’s famous publication Symbols of Transformation in 1912, which underwent successive revisions by Jung and which constitutes the central conceptual key of his analytical psy- chology. In 1914, Jung resigned his role as IPA president, retiring himself into a phase of personal deep inner reflection that led to his knowledge of the polyhedral nature of the human psyche with its multiple dimensions. To this end, he started an in-depth study of alchemy, theology, mythology, history of religions, and shamanism, from whence came the necessary encounter with anthropological thought. The three primary motivations that led Jung to turn away from Freudian orthodoxy were: (1) criticism of Freudian pansexualism, whose theory interprets each symbol only from the sexual individual stand- point; (2) the Freudian conception of the libido understood exclusively from a personalistic sexual viewpoint; and (3) the assumption that neuroses date back only to those phases of libidinal psychosexual evolution of the human being that go from birth to approximately 6 or 7 years old, ending with the Oedipus complex. The Jungian notion of libido is larger than the Freudian one: it denotes

the general psychic energy, which is present in all that “tends toward” appetitus (Laplanche and Pontalis 1973). Neurosis is no longer relegated only to infancy, but rather it should be laid out within the wider and more complex dialectic relationship between the individual and the world because the former is always continuously growing throughout his life. According to Jung, human psychic evolution takes place through a partic- ular dynamic process, called the individuation process, which should be

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considered to be a perennial psychic transformation of the human being in the continuous relationship between themselves and their own uncon- scious until the realization of the Self. The 1912 Jungian individuation pro- cess is a pivotal concept around which the entirety of Jungian thought and its approach to the psychic world is articulated. By means of this basic process, the human psyche tries to dynamically realize its own self, which is a totality comprising consciousness and unconsciousness and which pushes for self-realization in such a manner to determine a new center of the conscious Ego. The determination of the Ego is meant to be a process of consciousness

formation by differentiation and integration from an initial original state of undifferentiation, identification, and promiscuity (with the object1 ) to start- ing to separate both from the Mother—the latter being understood both from a personal and archetypical meaning—and from the collective. Jung is therefore forced to introduce a larger epistemological construct for the unconscious than the Freudian construct. He distinguishes between a per- sonal (or individual) and a collective unconscious and then introduces the notion of archetype. The collective unconscious and an archetype are two closely related Jungian notions. The former is the result of previous long- term studies made by Jung on mythology and archaic practices, from which he inferred that the above-mentioned psychic processes are peculiar to any human being of any time; that is, they have an ahistorical and an atemporal structural nature, regardless of culture. Such universal psychic processes are all potentially available in the collective unconscious and become dynami- cally active during the psychic evolution of the human being. The structure of the collective unconscious is given by archetypes, whereas its content is given by the archetypical (or primordial) images, which never have an indi- vidual character but rather have a collective nature. The archetypical images are a type of “historical precipitate” of the collective memory whose existence is suggested to us, inter alia, by the recurrent mythological themes that are likely common to every race and all epochs. The archetypes express themselves by means of symbols or images; they are the same for every person on the planet and, in modern parlance, are neural circuits that are genetically organized during the neurogenesis of the young brain (Laughlin and Tiberia 2012). Depending upon adaptation, the social envi- ronment, and enculturation, some archetypes develop, while others languish in a relatively undeveloped state; when archetypes develop into more elabo- rated structures, they are called complexes. Later, particularly in the Appen- dix, we will return again to these basic aspects of analytical psychological thought.

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on l�ev i – s t rau s s i an and jung i an unconsc iou s

Herein, we briefly recall the main theoretical points concerning the notions of the unconscious according to Claude L�evi-Strauss and Carl Gustav Jung to compare them. Further considerations are in the Appendix.

On L�evi-Straussian Unconscious According to Ugo Fabietti (2001:Ch. 18) and2 Ino Rossi (1973), the primary ideas on structural anthropology were first presented in the famous work The Elementary Structures of Kinship in 1949. In this work, L�evi-Strauss places the unconscious reciprocity principle, which explains the prohibition of incest, at the root of the passage from nature to culture. According to L�evi- Strauss, taking structural linguistics as a primary paradigm (D’Aquili 1975), every social model is the result of a symbolic process obtained from primary oppositions between structures that are unconscious elementary entities devoid of content, so that the symbolic function is the primary result of a mediation between opposite tendencies. L�evi-Strauss freely acknowledged his debt to the Prague School, but he never quoted Jung. The first influence arising from linguistics is the basic concept of linguistic structuralism, that is to say, that the meaning lies in the relationships of terms. According to D’Aquili (1975), it appears probable that the origin of this basic concept is an earlier idea regarding the reconciliation of opposites on a psychological level, which was then projected onto a social level; this reconciliation clearly involves a Jungian dynamic. The ultimate origin of structuralism in L�evi- Strauss, for all its subsequent presentation in linguistic form, may very well be the dynamics of the resolution of antinomies resembling Jungian arche- types. The second influence of linguistics and his earliest major conceptual formulation is the theory of binary opposition. The basic function of the human mind is the binary contrast, which organizes percepta (or sensory inputs) into either opposite pairs or into positively opposite pairs (i.e., real psy- chological antinomies that he later calls contrasting pairs) or both at different levels. The opposition, then, may also run between two opposite or contrast- ing pairs, such as Jungian quaternio and so forth. The passage from nature to culture takes place thanks to the human ten-

dency to symbolically think of biological relationships in terms of systems of oppositions3; these systems are the fundamental and immediate data for social and mental reality as well as the crucial starting points of any further theoretical explanatory attempts. L�evi-Strauss was led to conceive of the struc- tural unconscious4 as the universal basis for every human thought of every epoch and every civilization on which the common laws of such a thought rely. The structural linguistic discipline then highlights the essentially uncon-

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scious nature of the fundamental phenomena of the life of mind. The unconscious would be the intermediary between the Self and Others,5 mak- ing their integration possible by overcoming their initial opposition. The bin- ary and oppositional logic molds the representations of social and natural reality into social models, following a pattern similar to the ethnolinguistic pattern. The incest prohibition and exogamy rely on this pattern, both having the formal nature of a reciprocity principle, which fills a gap between two initially separated worlds, the natural and the cultural world. The reciprocity principle, as we have said, explains the incest prohibition by means of dualis- tic organizations (Cressant 1970:Ch. 2). With The Elementary Structures of Kinship, L�evi-Strauss defines the basis for a psycho-logic, that is to say, the quest for the a priori universal formal principles of the human mind, which, though hidden, influence concretely visible data and phenomena (Cipriani 1988:Ch. 3, Sec. 3.1). To pursue this quest, he frequently made reference to the mathematical sciences.6

According to Comba (2000:Ch. 4, Sec. 1), after L�evi-Strauss’ fieldwork in Brazil, the relationships between the social relation system and mental repre- sentations were always the object of his attention. To this end, he was forced to reach a human thought level deeper than the conscious. L�evi-Strauss, through the evolution of his thought, reached a notion of the unconscious quite different from the Freudian one (but from which it started7), which allows us to apply the reciprocal comparison to different and otherwise incom- parable cultural contexts. This notion allows communication in every place and every time between us and others, thus attaining a well-defined concept of history. Through this notion of the unconscious, its regularities and recur- rences, as well as its common functional laws, L�evi-Strauss speaks of a univer- sal soul or mind. According to Marcel H�enaff (1998):Ch. 4), this universal mind allows us to state the finite number of possible logics with which it oper- ates as well as to postulate the precedence of the logic rules with respect to the functional ones. There is a sort of anteriority of the (common) logic rela- tion systems that structure the unconscious level to give rise to the next sym- bolic thought and to historical language. According to Francesco Remotti (1971:Ch. 4, Sec. 2), the unconscious plays a very fundamental epistemological role in the entire L�evi-Straussian anthropological system, which at different times touches on Freud’s,8 Jung’s, and (later) Lacan’s ideas. According to San- dro Nannini (1981:Ch. 7, Sec. 2), L�evi-Strauss considers the unconscious to be the place of transindividual symbolic order within which the communicating subjects—who are the protagonists in a game of free choice—recite roles implied by the dualistic combinatory logic the reciprocal relationships among them emerge and dominate the individuals. This binary logic is the essence of the unconscious, which is also the place of the inner human conflict that forces the Ego to work with the Other, to give rise to the Otherness.

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On Jungian Unconscious The Freudian unconscious relies on a basic repression mechanism that fur- nishes an essential character of individuality to this entity. As stated above, only in old age did Freud turn his attention toward possible transpersonal and archaic unconscious influences on the human psyche. Instead, Jung was the first psychoanalyst who gave substantial attention to these aspects, distin- guishing between a personal (or individual) unconscious and a collective one. According to Carotenuto (1990, 1991):Ch. 5; see also Laughlin and Tibe- ria 2012 and Evans 1964), the Jungian collective unconscious is an entity that is understood to be dynamically structured according to a phylogenetic order by a set of primary, unobservable, and irreducible elements called archetypes. The theory of archetypes has also undergone a historical evolution that deprives it of a unique and definitive formulation, placing the notion of archetype between the psychological dimension and the somatic reality (Laughlin and Tiberia 2012). Thus, because the archetype is connected with instinctual reality, it is an innate predisposition that is devoid of certain psy- chological attitudes. However, because it is also related to the spiritual dimension, it is an a priori category of knowledge, a transcendental dimen- sion that, in turn, may be historically retraced in Platonic ideas, in the Scho- penhauer prototypes, or in the a priori forms of the transcendental Kantian logic. The archetype, completely invisible and unconscious, may manifest itself only by means of archetypical images, whose phenomenology acts through modalities depending on the cultural and traditional context, giving rise to the personal unconscious. The collective unconscious, as meant by Jung, is an objective structural entity conceived of as a universal sediment of past experiences.9 To support this idea, Jung used the anthropological method of cultural parallelisms (Kroeber 1948), observing that every ethnic group, with respect to meaningful universal events such as death, birth, love, and so on, responds with quite similar behavioral and expressive modalities. This observation is motivated by comparison among the different mytholo-

gies, religious systems, and artistic and cultural creations, as well as by the comparison of these with the psychic material emerging from dreams, fanta- sies, and deliria. Jung considered the collective unconscious to be the result of a human teleological adaptation, in turn due to a primary biological need to cope with the anxieties of life (Jacobi 1971:Ch. 3). Jung’s interests in anthropology and ethnology constitute, therefore, an indispensable premise to his theory of archetypes: for instance, the L�evy-Bruhl theories had a great influence on the creation of the Jungian theoretical framework; vice versa, Jungian theories also had a great influence on anthropological thought (Car- otenuto 1994:Ch. 6; see also Laughlin and Tiberia 2012).

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a f i r s t compar i son between the j ung i an and the l�ev i – s t r au s s i an unconsc ious

Many studies have been conducted that compare the L�evi-Straussian uncon- scious with the Jungian collective unconscious. These studies discuss many common points between these two theoretical constructs, which nevertheless are not equal. Among these articles, we recall Remotti (1971:Ch. 4, Sec. 2); D’Aquili (1975), John Raphael Staude (1976), Vernon Gras (1981), and Richard Gray (1991) and the references quoted therein. Gray’s article, among other objectives, compares the various previous studies conducted regarding this crucial question, trying to objectively argue that many common points exist between these two constructs in contrast to those who would prefer to see a gap between them. Both notions are joined by their common basilar structural nature as well as by the common laws with which they operate and that obey a primary binary and oppositional logic; as regards the Jungian collective unconscious, this last aspect emerges from the study of mythologi- cal thought, as we will see later. According to Gray, strict parallelisms exist between the constructs because

both authors were observing the same entity from very similar perspectives. Both divide the unconscious into dual segments, one personal and one imper- sonal (or collective); they also see the deeper, impersonal level as providing a content-free infrastructure upon which to build content. The next element of similarity is the pattern of oppositions and their resolution (D’Aquili 1975). L�evi-Strauss sees this opposition as representing the underlying structure of the unconscious. Again, L�evi-Strauss, in explaining the myth, states that:

The mythical thought always progresses from the awareness of oppositions toward their resolution . . . We need only assume that two opposite terms with no intermediary always tend to be replaced by two equivalent terms which admit a third one as a mediator; then one of the polar terms and the mediator become replaced by a new triad, and so on. [1955:440]

The patterns of opposing elements were central to Jung’s scheme. The prin- ciple of oppositions is noted by Jung as an essential characteristic of con- scious thought and lies at the foundation of two basic psychic mechanisms devoted to overcoming it, the dialectic process of the coniunctio oppositorum and the polar process of the enantiodromia law (Galimberti 2006; see also Section 4.1). Many parts of L�evi-Strauss’ work are similar to these last aspects of Jungian thought, although Jung himself is never explicitly quoted, although he preceded L�evi-Strauss by 10 to 20 years10 (D’Aquili 1975). Jung notes that “there is no consciousness without discrimination of opposites”

68 anthropology of consc iousne s s 26 . 1



(1969b:96). The previous quote, drawn from Aion, reflects the fact that Jung saw the heart of the psyche in oppositionally based dynamics. Although the quotation reflects Jung’s view of psychic organization, it is nevertheless quite similar to L�evi-Strauss’s own binary opposition. To be precise, Jung says that:

As opposites never unite at their own level (tertium non datur), a super- ordinate “third” is always required in which the two parts can come together. And since the symbol derives as much from the conscious as from the unconscious, it is able to unite them both, reconciling their conceptual polarity through its form and their emotional polarity through its numinosity [1959:180].

In this statement, Jung meant that the archetype concept had an aprioristic form, but it was not completely rigid; indeed, this form undergoes a continu- ous mutability, except for its unavoidable dualistic and oppositional nature, according to a phylogenetic evolution. However, this latter possibility is not allowed by the L�evi-Straussian unconscious structure. The Jungian archetypes are neither representable nor visible, being fully unconscious, but they appear only symbolically—for instance in dreams, in fantasies, and in psy- chotic deliria—as primeval archetypical images, as stated above. These last archetypical images provide substantial content to the Jungian archetypes. Therefore, the first common point between the L�evi-Straussian and Jungian unconscious stems from their universal structural nature. Another common point concerns the mythological thought that, in both authors, structurally takes place through processes of opposition, as recalled above. According to a famous remark by Paul Ricoeur (Renzi 1965), the L�evi-

Straussian unconscious is conceivably more similar to the Kantian type than the Freudian type; that is to say, it is of a categorical and combinatorial type but without thought’s transcendental subject. This last aspect means that in place of the “I think” (Ego) there exists a well-determined ahistorical and atemporal formal organization meant as a sort of facultas præformandi (Caro- tenuto 1991:Ch. 5; 1994;Ch. 6) that is common both to ancient and modern individuals as well as to primitive and civilized persons, as proved by the study of symbolic functions, which are one of the primary features of uncon- scious as well as of human thought. This symbolic function is expressed through structures and forms meant to be pure ontological modes of being for the human mind, foregoing all possible structurally organized content.11

According to L�evi-Strauss, this (his) epistemological model of the uncon- scious represents the primary structure upon which the assumed L�evi-Straus- sian hypothesis of universality and the objectivity of every possible human thought is grounded, within the methodological unity of the knowledge

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through which it is possible to reach a type of equal leveling between the Geisteswissenschaften and the Naturwissenschaften in the celebrated Wilhelm Dilthey sense. Moreover, in the L�evi-Straussian unconscious model (Galimberti 2006),

the crucial meeting takes place between the subjective and the objective, on the one hand, and between the model and the structure on the other. There- fore, this meeting should be meant as mediation among the various, other- wise irreconcilable, individual subjectivities, thus making intersubjective communication and cognition possible. The latter is possible through the transposition of every individual toward a higher plane that does not tran- scend that individual in an alienating manner but simply puts him or her into a relationship with other common forms of knowledge that are, together, ours and of others. Furthermore, again following L�evi-Straussian thought (Caldiron 1975), the laws of unconscious activity remain always, on the one hand, outside of individual cognition (at most, it is possible to be conscious of them only as a historical object). On the other hand, it is they themselves that determine the modalities of this cognition, or else, the unconscious war- rants the objectivity (or the scientificity) of the individual cognition. In this last sense, it is possible, according to L�evi-Strauss, to speak of the uncon- scious as the place of the science, or else as the place of every form of rational knowledge (Rossi 1973). The statement that sees the collective unconscious as the primary source of philosophy, science, and mythology, which would originate from successive differentiations, is also expressed by the classical scholar Francis M. Cornford as well as by many other scholars such as the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, the historian Arnold J. Toynbee, and so forth, who based their studies just on the Jungian collective unconscious hypothesis (El- lenberger 1970:Ch. 9). Only at the unconscious level (Grampa 1976), as has already been men-

tioned above, does the otherwise unrealizable metahistorical integration takes place between subjective and objective.12 The unconscious operating modali- ties are the same for everyone in any time because they represent the condi- tions of all possible mental lives of all men of all times. Otherwise, the unconscious is the set of all possible mental and psychic structures that regu- late every human thought, both normal and pathological. In particular, in normal conditions, the (abstract) reification of certain symbolic forms takes place (by means of archetypical images); these forms have a structure leading to that provided by the Boolean algebra of bivalent logic13 (Piaget 1968). The L�evi-Straussian unconscious, as a metastructure categorized into pure free- content forms with a universal, atemporal, and formal character (Fabietti and Remotti 1997), is above all aimed toward the explication of the unconscious- science (or knowledge) relationship, if one primarily considers it to be an entity of all of the possible absolute laws and all of the necessary relationships

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(Moravia 1969). Finally, and according to the epistemological thought of Mario Ageno, which is derived from Ageno’s work and philosophical medita- tions on biophysics (hence, by comparing the epistemological patterns of physics and biology), a substantial unity of nature as well as a communion of methods and foundations of all of the sciences follows (Ageno 1962:Ch. 1, Sec. 1). As has already been said, Jungian and L�evi-Straussian unconscious notions

turn out to be, despite their common aspects, different: among their primary distinct points, we recall, above all are the diachronic (or historic) dynamicity of the structure of the former14 as opposed to the utter synchronic (or ahistor- ical) staticity of the structure of the latter.15 Furthermore, the archetypical structural forms of the Jungian unconscious may undergo changes in terms of their dependence on the phylogenetic evolution of the related contents16

and vice versa; that is to say, there is a certain reciprocal relationship between forms and content. The L�evi-Straussian unconscious, however, is primarily characterized by the absolute and full predetermination of its struc- tural forms, which are completely independent of the various contents that will fill them. Hence, there is a remarkable ontological insufficiency of con- tents in the L�evi-Straussian unconscious, unlike the Jungian one, because of the merely symbolic nature that the former must have. However, as has already been mentioned, we would like to stress again the two notable com- mon points between these unconscious notions, which may be identified in their primary structural nature and in their common binary logic. Indeed, a basic assumption for both is their primary constitution as an entity, formed by elementary structures according to L�evi-Strauss and by archetypes accord- ing to Jung. This common structural essence is then carried through elemen- tary and irreducible entities (i.e., the L�evi-Straussian structures and the Jungian archetypes), which relate among them through an oppositional bin- ary logic. These are, in short, the primary common points that we want to highlight for the purposes delineated in the following sections.


some further anthropolog ic al cons iderat ion s on log i c

According to Fabietti and Remotti (1997), the comparison between the logic of civilized thought and the logic of primitive thought is a vexata quæstio still open. In-depth studies were conducted by Christopher R. Hallpike (1979) and Jack Goody (1977). Currently, the general notion of primitive is anthro- pologically discredited if one considers it in opposition to the modern notion. In this regard, there was a semantic switch of the term “primitive,” which is currently understood as referring to the first original structural forms of logi-

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cal thought. Therefore, the term “primitive” refers to a previous logic condi- tion, namely to a logic anteriority rather than a social-historic one (Bonte and Izard 1991); hence, from this last point of view, the elementary analysis conducted in this article is quite justified. Nevertheless, there is no full clarity about the passage from primitive thought to civilized thought, whose borders appear to be quite vague.17

The first valuable studies on primitive mentality were made by L�evy-Bru- hl,18 who identified the first core of prelogical thought characterized by the lack of the elementary basic Aristotelian principles of identity and of non-con- tradiction, primarily due to the presence of the mystic participation law,19

which establishes relationships on the basis of emotive and mystic links. Indeed, L�evy-Bruhl himself does not deny that a primitive individual could rationally and logically think in a manner comparable with the individuals of civilized society. Nevertheless, it is just the social-cultural context, pervaded by this participation law and the related collective representations, that hides these mental potentialities, giving rise to forms of syncretic reasoning. Later, L�evy-Bruhl abandoned the net contraposition between prelogical and logical thought, accepting the idea that these may coexist but that only one of them may be manifested (at the expense of the remaining one) depending on indi- vidual existential experiences and the related invested affective charge. Thus, both of these types of thought are present in every society and in any human being but in different ratios. In our case, we also point to a remark from L�evi-Strauss in La pens�ee sauvage (of 1962), according to which the logic of primitive societies is quite fragmented due to the residuals of psychological and historical processes devoid of the notion of a priori necessity, which must be discovered only a posteriori. According to L�evi-Strauss, classification by oppositions and binary relations is one of the primary atemporal characteris- tics of the universal symbolic function, which explicates itself through the action of a binary principle on the basis of the structural linguistic pattern. It relies on oppositional and relational binary logic, which is the central pillar of the entire theoretical framework of L�evi-Straussian work as well as the Jungian system, as has been stated above.


f in al cons iderat ion s

From what has been said above, notwithstanding their few dissimilarities as entities, it is now possible to conduct further disquisitions on the above-men- tioned theoretical points common both to the Jungian unconscious and to the L�evi-Straussian one, which might turn out to be of certain importance as regards the possible early origins of consciousness. In the L�evi-Straussian con- ception, the unconscious is seen as the primary location of every possible psy-

7 2 anthropology of consc iousne s s 26 . 1



chic and mental structure, hence of each form of thought and knowledge. From the unconscious comes, in particular, all forms of logical structure, including the bivalent Aristotelian structure, which is typical of common rational thought (consciousness) but not the only possible structure.20 This Aristotelian structure is, however, the most elementary and primary one, and it lies at the foundation of the first forms of conscious reasoning; it arose dur- ing the passage from mythological to rational thought. On the other hand, from what has been said above about Jungian and Neumannian ideas, the sep- aration of opposites plays a very fundamental role in the dawning of the first forms of consciousness. If this separation were hindered or inhibited, then it would be possible to verify, with very simple elementary logical arguments, that logical deduction is possible for any thinkable proposition and rational statement, thus clearly reaching prelogical forms of syncretic21 reasoning. To be precise, in that realm of the unconscious resulting from the non-

void intersection between the L�evi-Straussian unconscious and the Jungian one, which is structurally created by elementary dualistic entities operating according to an oppositional binary logic, every possible proposition and statement is valid, as follows from the well-known Pseudo Scoto argument. In this argument, we find one of the most characteristic theoretical aspects of the L�evi-Strauss unconscious concerning the presumed unifying uncon- scious-science relationship; to be precise, as has already been mentioned above, that it is the unification place of any science and every thought.22

Therefore, only by means of separating opposites, in accordance with Jung and Neumann, will it be possible to attain rational thought respecting the usual basic Aristotelian bivalent logic rules and principles, including the prin- ciple of non-contradiction23 and the principle of identity, as also recalled by Jung (1969a) himself. However, Freud himself claimed that every human act of consciousness is basically the result of a dialectic process arising from a separation of opposites (Akhtar and O’Neil 2011) by negation. Likewise, Imre Hermann (1989) also argued for the primary role played by the so-called dual procedure, basically founded on the separation of opposites by negation, in the formation of the elementary principles of Aristotelian logic. The simple elementary logic argumentations that lead us to these conclu-

sions are as follows. According to Evert Beth (1959) and Ettore Carruccio (1971, 1977), if a rational theory is roughly meant to be a coherent and non contradictory set of premises (i.e., primitive propositions or statements, axi- oms, or postulates, aprioristically assumed to be true) and consequences (logi- cally deducted from the premises), then the well-known Pseudo Scoto theorem, maybe dating back to Scholastics, states the following: if, in a cer- tain rational theory T, at least two contradictory propositions or statements coexist, say A and ¬A (=negation of A), forming a pair of opposites,24 then it is possible to prove within T that every possible proposition or statement X is

on jung i an and l�ev i – s traus s i an unconsc ious 7 3



also true. This result clearly reaches forms of prelogic and (psychologically) syncretic reasoning (Malatesta 1982, Ch. 4, Sec. 5) typical of the primary pro- cess and of primitive thought (see the references to L�evy-Bruhl in the Appen- dix). We repeat that the elementary basic principles upon which Archimedean logic relies (i.e., the first logic system to be historically outlined by human beings both phylogenetically and ontogenetically) are the identity principle and the principle of non-contradiction. In turn, these are both closely related to negation and hence to the primary psychological notion of the separation of opposites. Without this last basic process, the Pseudo Scoto theorem states that we inevitably fall back into the realm of the undifferentiated. However, accord- ing to John Sowa (1984:386) and Salman Akhtar and Mary Kay O’Neil (2011), the basic operations of elementary Aristotelian logic are conjunction, disjunc- tion, material implication, and biconditional implication, even if Charles S. Peirce proved that all four of these operations can only be derived from two primitive operations, conjunction and negation, consistent with the above state- ments addressing the primary role played by the separation of opposites. Thus, the origins of the foundation of bivalent classical (Aristotelian) rea-

soning, that is to say, of the first forms of conscious rational thought (as grad- ually emerging from mythological thought), should be traced in this primary process of differentiation and separation from the above-mentioned initial (Neumannian) uroboric undifferentiated state and from the subsequent vari- ous incest phases, in which simultaneously prevail conditions of opposition and undifferentiation. However, according to Andrew Samuels, Bani Shorter, and Fred Plaut (1986), the opposites are the indispensable and unavoidable precondition of every psychic life. Jung puts the opposition principle at the root of his framework, as had been done by his predecessors. Alternation between two irreconcilable extremes of a pair of opposites is the distinctive trait of an awakening of consciousness. When the corresponding tension attains its highest degree and becomes intolerable, then a solution must be found: the only possible solution is placed at a higher level than the initial opposite elements. At first, this third element is, in itself, irrational, unex- pected, and incomprehensible to the conscious mind, which feels only two oppositions contrasting between them. The conscious mind does not know what will join these two contrasting tendencies together until the symbol appears and accomplishes the difficult unifying task. This unification is the result, above all, of a coniunctio oppositorum but, in some cases, also of the e- nantiodromia law, both of which take place within the unconscious; accord- ing to D’Aquili (1975), this process is also identifiable within L�evi-Strauss’ work on binary process. As has already been said, opposites play a fundamental role in Jungian the-

ory, which starts from the principle25 (said to be the compensation principle) that psychic life is a self-regulating system. This system can attain a condition

74 anthropology of consc iousne s s 26 . 1



of equilibrium between conscious and unconscious instances only by means of the accommodation or mediation of opposites, which takes place through two main principles, the enatiodromia law and, above all, the coniunctio op- positorum. The first is a psychological law, first formulated by Heraclitus, denoting the tendency of everything to transform into its opposite. According to Jung, the essence of psychic dynamics is at first the creation of pairs of opposites (from the primordial conscious-unconscious opposition), hence the compensation of their elements; it is then thanks to the enantiodromia law that the opposite pair takes place, which will remain in an oppositional and dynamic tension that never reaches a dialectic resolution. The latter, how- ever, will be overcome thanks to the coniunctio oppositorum with the subse- quent symbolic formation (Samuels, Shorter, and Plaut 1986; Galimberti 2006). These two elementary processes of the general compensation principle might be invoked to explain the oppositional and relational binary logic of L�evi-Strauss’s theoretical framework, which is the essential core of Aristote- lian logic. According to Jung, the unconscious mind is undifferentiated, whereas the conscious mind can discriminate; the hallmark of consciousness is therefore discrimination. If consciousness wants to attain awareness of things, it must separate the opposites, which are always inclined to merge (Samuels, Shorter, and Plaut 1986). Once the separation has taken place, the two distinct elements must still maintain a conscious relationship between them to avoid a nullifying fusion. Erich Neumann (1954) therefore developed his own theory on the origins and developments of consciousness starting from these Jungian elements and pursuing a phylo-ontogenetic stance (see also Laughlin and Tiberia 2012). Taking into account the mythological per- spective, Neumann worked out a development of consciousness according to individual stages, phylogenetically isomorphic to mythological development, indicating the centrality of the opposite separation theme. In conclusion, thanks to very elementary basic logical arguments, it has been possible to ascertain that the consciousness of the human being can take place only in that non void realm of the unconscious given by the non empty intersection between the L�evi-Straussian structural unconscious and the Jung collective unconscious, through those psychic processes explained by Jung and Neu- mann. Finally, these last considerations make use of very basic topics drawn from

elementary logic applied to psychological contexts; they might also undergo impertinent objections if one accepts, in principle, a certain distinction between mathematical and psychological logic. We do not consider this dis- tinction on the basis of the statements of one of the major scholars of mathe- matical epistemology, Federigo Enriques (1871–1946), who considered, in a precise sense, formal logic to be part of psychology (Enriques 1985). There- fore, the few considerations given above should be considered within this

on jung i an and l�ev i – s traus s i an unconsc ious 7 5



Enriquesian epistemological framework.


appendix In this appendix, for the sake of completeness, we gather some further anthropological and psychoanalytic notes that should be seen as the deepen- ing, integration, and completion of the main text. These notes have been rel- egated into an appendix so as not to overload the text and to avoid obscuring the line of thought that leads to the primary argumentation presented in this article; that is to say, that the separation of opposites is an unavoidable condi- tion for the early origins of consciousness. This argumentation is also sup- ported by very elementary logic considerations.


on anal y t i c a l p s ychology, ma inl y c . g . j ung and e . neumann

In this section, we proceed by delineating the cornerstones of both Jungian thought—in continuation of what has been said above—and of that of Erich Neumann. Moreover, further considerations on the relationships between Jungian and anthropological thought will be briefly outlined, where possible.

On Jungian Thought, Part 2 According to Carotenuto (1991:Ch. 5; 1994:Ch. 6; Samuels, Shorter, and Plaut 1986; see also Laughlin and Tiberia 2012), before Freud and Jung, any psychopathological event was considered without considering any possible theoretical meaning. With these thinkers, these apparently meaningless psy- chic events could acquire a proper meaning with the introduction of a cer- tain epistemological construct called the unconscious, which was nevertheless differently defined by these two authors. The primary hypothesis of the Freudian framework is that of psychic repression, according to which anxious object representations linked to a given drive are removed from the con- sciousness field because they contrast with internal or external needs. These anxious object representations, however, maintain their own energetic charge at a potential state in the individual unconscious. Therefore, repression is a fundamental psychic (defense) mechanism through which consciousness sep- arates from the unconscious: this is one of the central statements of Freudian thought. From an epistemological and historical standpoint, the Freudian pattern

has always been the primary basis from which to start laying the foundations of any subsequent psychoanalytic model. This was the case for Jungian the-

76 anthropology of consc iousne s s 26 . 1



ory, which, starting from some Freudian ideas, reached a wider construct of the unconscious, distinguishing between a personal26 and a collective uncon- scious. The former is ontogenetically included in the latter, which has a phy- logenetic order. Each of us, then, has their own manner of building a relationship with the collective unconscious that is dependent on the forces of the Ego: the stronger the Ego is, the wider the opening toward the collec- tive unconscious will be. When building this relationship, the personal unconscious will simultaneously form. Later, we will discuss more deeply the Jungian notion of unconscious and its features. According to Laplanche and Pontalis (1973) and Charles Rycroft (1968),

and as briefly recalled above, the essence of Freudian doctrine revolves around two primary topographies of the human psyche. The first identifies a conscious, a preconscious, and an unconscious component. The second defines three agencies, namely the Ego agency, roughly corresponding to the conscious psychic part; the Super-Ego agency, which roughly corresponds to the preconscious apprehension of social and normative instances; and the Id agency, which refers to instinctual unconscious forces. The Ego agency acts (during the so-called secondary process) as a mediator between strong Id claims, which are uncompromising and desire immediate satisfaction (plea- sure principle), and the Super-Ego normative forbiddances and rules, trying to find an intermediary resolution to achieve satisfaction (principle of reality). A neurosis takes place when the Ego fails in its fundamental and primary role, though it does exist and is intact; that is to say, the basic test of reality is not compromised. Nevertheless, the primary shortcoming of Freudian theory concerns the lack of consideration of psychoses because the theory was built, above all, on clinical data provided by the analysis of neurotics whose Egos are, after all, intact. Because of this shortcoming, Jung felt the need to rectify this lack by trying

to extend the Freudian framework to include psychosis. In achieving this extension, Jung was helped by his valuable previous experience as a psychia- trist at the Burgh€olzi Psychiatric Hospital in Z€urich, which put him in direct contract with psychotics, in contrast to Freud27 (who was a neurologist). From this valuable experience, Jung drew fundamental inspiration to formu- late his new theory of the human psyche, following an epistemological para- digm quite similar to those of Kuhn’s scientific revolutions. From all of the material collected through the analysis of deep psychotic suffering, Jung was led to widen the first Freudian framework. The basic assumptions of his the- ory are those of the individuation process, of the personal and collective unconscious, and of the principle of compensation. The personal uncon- scious is the place of the (Ego’s) complexes that every human being experi- ences throughout her or his structuring of infant relationships with the collective unconscious (see also Laughlin and Tiberia 2012). An Ego complex

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is defined as a set of (object) representations that refer to a given event that has an affective-emotive charge; that is to say, it is a set of images and ideas assembled around a central key,28 which are strongly joined together by an affective tonality. An Ego complex autonomously acts within our personality and constitutes the basis of our own personal unconscious dimension. Com- plexes are the sources of dreams and symptoms of personal history, which symbolically manifest themselves. They constitute autonomous parts of the human psyche that are variously activated in certain circumstances: for instance, when one establishes an interpersonal relationship, a particular complex is activated that manifests, or activates, an aspect of the personality that may be different from or barely coherent with the usual personality upon which it prevails. The complex prevails because of its psychic partiality, which is strictly linked to the splitting attitudes of the human psyche (already identified by Freud’s work). The prevailing complex will possess the person. The analytical treatment is turned, by compensation (and then through the individuation process), toward the integration and assimilation of the various emerging complexes through the conscious Ego. The variegation of com- plexes, which are completely split in the primitive spiritual condition, is a phylogenetic characteristic both of the primitive and the differentiated (civi- lized) psyche, by means of the collective unconscious, whose structural con- tent is comprised of well-determined psychic elementary structures called archetypes. We shall return to these last points later. With regard to the normal development of the human psyche, the con-

scious Ego gradually acquires its autonomy (enlarging its consciousness) by assimilating and integrating the various Ego complexes that take place as a result of those traumatic events that all human beings experience during their lives (but with particular emphasis on childhood). The complexes’ structure is due to the archetypical images and ideas emerging from the col- lective unconscious, which are the only ways in which the archetypes may be manifested. They form the substantial (reified) content of the collective unconscious. This process for manifesting complexes is necessary to avoid the Ego’s fascination with the numinous power of the (collective) uncon- scious, and it takes place thanks to the individuation process, which has its apex approximately between 30 and 40 years old. Only through such a pro- cess will it be possible to reach a creative and constructive integral psychic personality, which is indivisible but quite differentiated from the collective conscious and unconscious psyche.29 The primary recurrent archetypical images with which every human being is called to compare herself or him- self are the Shadow (i.e., the unknown or the unacceptable), the Persona (i.e., the image of a person proposing a “mask” to the world with which one often identifies oneself), the Animus and the Anima (as reciprocal sexual unconscious counterparts), the Puer (i.e., the eternal possibility of becoming

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from the native state), the Great Mother (in both its good and its terrifying aspects—see the next sections). The Ego must compare itself with them dur- ing the individuation process to attain its autonomy. Such a primary process, by compensation, will try to integrate the different psychic parts into a total Self, beyond which the conflict between opposite tendencies is not elimi- nated but is used as a creative structural datum of the human psyche. For Jung, the fundamental categories through which psychic reality devel-

ops are polarization (i.e., the idea of organization by opposites), compensa- tion, and relation; these are all elements that refer to the basic conflicting nature of personality (Samuels, Shorter, and Plaut 1986). The dialectic of opposites is connate in the human being and embeds its deep roots into the Shadow; in particular, Jung assigns a determinant role to the Anima-Animus opposition. The Self then has the fundamental task of mediation and synthe- sis between opposite tendencies, whose dualistic nature is a recurrent charac- teristic of archetypes. The symbolic function—like, for instance, that inherent to the activity of dreaming—is of just this type, casting a bridge between the conscious and unconscious dimensions that allow the approach of opposites, generating a third element—the transcendental function—that makes possible the passage from one dimension to another. The reunification of opposites through this transcendental function (by coniunctio oppositorum or by enantiodromia) is properly called mysterium coniunctionis, a term drawn from alchemy, which also played a fundamental role in formulating Jungian thought. According to Galimberti (2006), a basic principle of analytical psy- chology is consideration of psychic life as a self-regulating principle, by com- pensation, which can reach a condition of equilibrium only by reconciling contraries either through coniunctio oppositorum or enantiodromia. At this point, it is now possible to continue with Neumann’s thought, which is a fur- ther mythological deepening of Jungian thought.

On Erich Neumann’s Thought There have been many followers and pupils of Jung and of his thought, including Gerhard Adler, Luigi Aurigemma, Ernst Bernhard, Aldo Caroten- uto, Hans Dieckmann, Gustav Dreifuss, Edward F. Edinger, Christou Evan- gelos, Michael Fordham, Umberto Galimberti, Hester Harding, Joseph L. Henderson, James Hillman, Jolande Jacobi, Dora Kalff, John W. Layard, Rafael Lopez-Pedraza, Carl A. Meyer, Erich Neumann, Pierre Solie, Sabrina Spielrein, Mario Trevi, Marie-Louise Von Franz, Joseph B. Wheelwright, Edward C. Whitmont, and Hanna Wolff. Each of them originally developed particular aspects of Jungian thought (see Carotenuto 1992 for brief details). Furthermore, Jung had fruitful collaborations with the historian Karl Ker�enyi and the physicist Wolfgang Pauli.30 But for our purposes, we are primarily

on jung i an and l�ev i – s traus s i an unconsc ious 79

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