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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Monday, February 7, 2011


More for my own reference than anything else, I happened across this Google.docs essay and decided to link to it because of the following observation about Jung by Arielle Emmett:

"Post-modern critics have more or less dispatched Jung. At the same time his archetype concept has morphed into the more empirically testable prototype theories of cognitive linguistics and visual arts. Developed in the 1970s and 1980s largely by Eleanor Rosch and George Lakoff, prototypes reinterpret Wittgenstein's 'family resemblances' and basic-level categories, arguing that cognition produces a set of canonical categories (mental schema) that aid memory by producing somewhat abstracted or idealized feature sets of an object or object class (birds, for example) (Lakoff 1987)."

Inasmuch as Emmett's purpose is to sum up the POV of cognitive scientists like Lakoff, the purpose of this cerebral abstraction is to "conserve billions of cortical neurons in long-term memory while efficiently accessing the category schema requird to make matches between the prototypes and new images/word-concepts." In this elegantly worded statement, Emmett does an excellent job of conveying the appeal of cognitive science to modern thinkers.

Of course, even without disavowing the existence of the objective data to which Lakoff, Rosch, Solso and others make reference, I am still not convinced that of Emmett's assertion that Jung has been made irrelevant by Lakoff and his hard-science homeys.

In any comparison it should be kept in mind that though Jung wrote a great deal on philosophical and scientific matters, at base his orientation was toward the healing of troubled human spirits. To that end he practiced psychology not as "hard science" but as an art of communication.

I believe I understand the appeal of this sort of science, particularly where its adherents believe it gives them weapons to knock down the idols of superstition and religion. But even if all of humankind's abilities to abstract and conceptualize *may* have arisen from cerebral attempts to conserve energy, that base fact does not define what the power of abstraction finally means, any more than the seed of an oak tress "means" the birds that nest within the tree.

All of which probably has a lot to do with my current rereading of Kant, as much as finding this particular essay...

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