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Pietikainen, P. (1998). Response to Hester McFarland Solomon, George B. Hogenson and Anthony Stevens. J. Anal. Psychol., 43(3):379-388.
(1998). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 43(3):379-388
Response to Hester McFarland Solomon, George B. Hogenson and Anthony Stevens
I wrote the article ‘Archetypes as symbolic forms’ in the early months of 1996, and since that time I have become more sceptical towards Jung's theory of archetypes and Jungian ontology in general. For a historian, it is difficult to cope with the basic Jungian idea that archetypes are ahistorical structural categories of the collective unconscious, which remain quite ‘immune’ to the influences of contingent historical events. With archetypes, Jung was concerned with the ‘invariables’ of the mental structure, not with the historical changes and their historical explanations. Consequently, I think now that in my article I have too optimistic a view of the applicability of Jung's ideas to other fields of study, especially to historical scholarship.
Because my commentators have raised many relevant issues, I will start responding to their criticism right away, although I am not able to reply at anything like sufficient length. I am glad that my critics are among the most articulate and able representatives of the Jungian scholarship, two of them having stimulated my own train of thought with their works, Jung's struggle with Freud (by Hogenson, a magnificent book by any scholarly standard), Archetype and On Jung (both by Stevens).
To begin with, Hester McFarland Solomon makes a number of curious statements that betray her rather uncritical adherence to standard Jungian doctrines. Most of all, her claim that Jung ‘demonstrated’ that instincts have mental correlates called ‘archetypal representations’ shows how Jungians are prone to take assertions as arguments, metaphysical substances or hypostases as demonstrations. It is typical that all three critics of my article are not able to give any real justification to their belief in the existence of archetypes. Unlike Solomon, I find no adequate reason to believe that Jung's theory bridged the two disciplines of science and humanities. As the ageing Jung did not follow the latest developments in biology or genetics, he did not consider, for example, the relevancy of the discovery of DNA (in the 1950s) to his archetypal theory. In general, the biological mechanism of genetic inheritance was anything but clear to Jung and his contemporaries. Hence the biologistic premises in Jung's theory are difficult to vindicate, to say the least.
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