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Goldwert, M. (1983). Toynbee and Jung: The historian and analytical psychology—a brief comment. J. Anal. Psychol., 28(4):363-366.

(1983). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 28(4):363-366

Toynbee and Jung: The historian and analytical psychology—a brief comment

M. Goldwert, Ph.D.

The full weight of Jung's analytical psychology on professional Western historiography has yet to be felt. Promising psycho-historical concepts like the archetypes and the collective unconscious have still not been adequately integrated into the discipline. Professional historians, even psycho-historians, tend to disregard the fertile synthesising concepts in Jungian psychology. Hence, in this short paper I wish to explore how one famous historian, Arnold Toynbee, had a flirtation with Jungian psychology, climaxed in 1956 by a statement in this Journal which pushed the collective unconscious to the brink, and then later shied away from the implications of his own pronouncement. It is hoped that this brief piece will lead historians to take up the thread abandoned by Toynbee after 1956.

It should be noted, from the outset, that my interest in Toynbee may be deemed typically American. Toynbee has always been more popular in the United States than in his native Britain. I think that his popularity in America is attributable to the fact that in his great morphological work, A Study of History (1934-1961), Toynbee drew parallels from the classical world which, while alien to some academic historians, were applicable to the United States as a world power, as the ‘New Athens’ or ‘New Rome’ in an age of acute crisis. However, Toynbee appeals to me not only as an American, but because he illustrates my psycho-historical contention that Jungian psychology is ripe with concepts for the professional historian.

The first question that needs to be asked is: what drew Toynbee almost exclusively to Jung as his favourite psychologist? The answer is obvious: both thinkers stressed the spiritual-religious side of man's nature. Starting with their common ground in spiritual forces, Toynbee's A Study of History touched upon the archetypes, upheld the applicability of the collective unconscious, and applied the four Jungian functions of the human mind. Let us listen to two exemplary passages from Toynbee's monumental history, the first from volume IV and the second from volume VII.

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