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Stein, M. (2008). ‘Divinity Expresses the Self …’ An Investigation. J. Anal. Psychol., 53(3):305-327.

(2008). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 53(3):305-327

Articles: The Self

‘Divinity Expresses the Self …’ An Investigation

Murray Stein, Ph.D.

The self is more than conscious identity and location (i.e., the ego) because it includes and expresses the full range of the psyche, all conscious and unconscious elements included, and it is responsible for the unity of the psyche as a whole. Beyond this, the self concept sets up the basis for the linkage between analytical psychology and religious doctrines of transcendence. It has been stated by critics and sympathizers that Jung was a ‘mystic’, or a throwback to pre-Enlightenment medievalism, who equated the self with God, mixed up categories of transcendence and immanence, and put the psyche on a symbolic par with Divinity. While this does contain a kernel of truth about his late views, it is not quite as straightforward as it sounds. This essay explores the complex relation of the self to the transcendent (Divinity), as Jung understood these terms and employed them, focusing especially on a critical passage from his last major work, Mysterium Coniunctionis. The notion of self as imago Dei grasps the paradoxical nature of the self, a coincidentia oppositorum that is at once personal and impersonal, embodying a pattern of Divinity that also is revealed as a coincidentia oppositorum, immanent and transcendent. Jung posits, moreover, a dynamic interactive relation between the self and the transcendence it mirrors. Altogether, this combination of features regarding the self sets Jung's psychology apart from humanistic and personalistic psychologies and secular depth psychologies such as those descended from Freud on the one side, and on the other side it also separates it from pre-Enlightenment dogmatic psychologies such as those belonging to religious fundamentalisms. This essay attempts to explore and to explicate the subtle space between purely secular and religious doctrines and to make the case that Jung's depth psychology represents a post-Enlightenment, post-secular, post-humanistic vision of the human as a material/spiritual being whose psyche links earth and heaven, the here and the beyond, the finite and the infinite. It is a radical attempt to break out of modernity without regressing to medievalism.

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