In Search of Jung: Historical and Philosophical Enquiries. By J.J. Clarke. London: Routledge.
Review by: Nicola Blandford
Jung himself remarked:
If you call me an occultist because I am seriously investigating religious, mythological, and philosophical fantasies … then you are bound to diagnose Freud as a sexual pervert since he is doing likewise with sexual fantasies.
(Letters II p. 186).
J.J. Clarke is a historian of ideas who wants to rescue Jung from charges of mysticism and to show him to be a reputable thinker of importance to the intellectual debates of the twentieth century. He seeks to do this by examining the philosophies Jung studied and exploring Jung's development of these ideas and the theories of his own that resulted.
The first part of the book, headed ‘The Philosophic Journey’, looks at Jung in relation to Freud, and then at his place in the Western philosophical tradition originated by Kant. Clarke shows in some detail the links between Jung's thought and that of philosophers such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Dilthey, and of historians like Burckhardt and Bachoven. Via phenomenology and existentialism, he turns to Jung's thinking on the spiritual traditions of both the West and the East, and his interest in Oriental teachings. These strands are well brought together, and demonstrate how the study of alchemy, for Jung, integrated the different spiritual approaches he had been investigating.
The second section, ‘The Rediscovered Self’, develops Jung's recognition of all the differing traditions as ‘mirrors of a part of ourselves’. It is therefore more psychological, addressing Jung's thinking on the nature of the psyche and on questions like our search for individuation and meaning. It is also more biological as it engages with the contentious issues of the inheritance of patterns of experiencing and behaving: that is, the area of archetypes and instinct.
Perhaps because it is never clinical, I found it hard to keep going with this book, despite there being much of interest. It is Jung's clinical insights that I value most highly, and whose neglect I most regret. Clarke, of course, is not writing for clinicians,
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