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Merchant, J. (2010). Responses to Erik Goodwyn's ‘Approaching Archetypes: Reconsidering Innateness’. J. Anal. Psychol., 55(4):534-542.

(2010). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 55(4):534-542

Responses to Erik Goodwyn's ‘Approaching Archetypes: Reconsidering Innateness’ Related Papers

John Merchant, Ph.D.

Many of the issues raised in Goodwyn's paper reflect aspects of that much larger debate in psychology to do with ‘nature’ versus ‘nurture’ and it cannot be expected that this exchange will finally close on that issue. None the less, it is an issue of considerable importance in contemporary research on the biological base to psychological experience as reflected recently in Nelson, de Haan & Thomas’ (2006) Neuroscience of Cognitive Development: The Role of Experience and the Developing Brain. In it, they take a position in opposition to what they call ‘biological determinism’ [or what Developmental Systems Theory calls ‘preformationism’ - see Oyama, Griffiths & Gray (2001)]. This is the view in biology that the information for producing an organism is contained in the genetic constitution of the zygote and becomes ‘read-out’ in an environment. This concept does relate to analytical psychology when archetypes, conceived as biologically based and pre-existent in the psyche, are understood to be ‘readout’ into experience in some preformed way, an approach I have critiqued previously (Merchant 2006, 2009). Knox's (2003) image schema model of archetypes which sees infant development itself as leading to the final crafting of mind/brain structures which underpin archetypal experience, is based on contemporary neuroscience and is similarly opposed to the kind of biological determinism which Nelson et al describe.

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