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Jung At Heart

“It certainly does seem that certain individuals occasionally get in contact with forces outside themselves, something like cog-wheels grinding away in their spirits, that suddenly, perhaps only momentarily, slip into the notches of gigantic, unseen cog-wheels of cosmic scope. Maybe that’s what is meant by ‘getting in touch with the infinite.'”
-REH to CAS, undated.

Carl Jung introduced the idea of an archetype as a kind of prototypical concept, a basic building block of ideas. Jung thought of the archetypes as pychological “organs”, the product of mental or psychological morphology. Similarly, Jung believed the collective unconsciousness was a shared heritage bequeathed by our evolution, which shaped our minds just as it shaped our physical bodies.
Although we can study the genetic code that we carry for the shaping of our bodies, the collective unconsciousness can only be guessed at by the way it reveals itself to us in dreams, myth, religion and creative art. Through a life of study, Jung found that certain symbolic themes are universal. These archetypes are the hallmarks, the DNA, of the collective unconsciousness. Expanding on this, Joseph Campbell began working on the idea of a monomyth, a hero tale shared in its basic form by all cultures, even our pop culture; the monomyth involves a monumental task placed on a hero, who rises to meet the challenge through learning and growth (at the hand of a mentor of some sort, usually, who he will than grow to surpass).

It is not hard to see a similarity to the growth patterns of sons who learn from their father only to one day outstrip his abilities, as they grow to maturity while their father ages. Every individual must face his hero’s task in one way or another, if he is to find his own way in the world.

Wikipedia’s entry on Jung states:

The overarching goal of Jung’s work was the reconciliation of the life of the individual with the world of the supra-personal archetypes. He came to see the individual’s encounter with the unconscious as central to this process. The human experiences the unconscious through symbols encountered in all aspects of life: in dreams, art, religion, and the symbolic dramas we enact in our relationships and life pursuits. Essential to the encounter with the unconscious, and the reconciliation of the individual’s consciousness with this broader world, is learning this symbolic language. Only through attention and openness to this world (which is quite foreign to the modern Western mind) is the individual able to harmonize his life with these suprapersonal archetypal forces.

Jung listed four main forms of archetypes:

Symbols of the unconscious abound in Jungian psychology and some have beome recognizable types in art and fiction: