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Jung's Answer to Job - Marc Fonda

Jung's Answer to Job - Marc Fonda



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Published by: Tom Rue on Nov 11, 2008
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 Answer to Job
Marc Fonda
Taken from
The Portable Jung
.Joseph Campbell, ed. R.F.C. Hull translator.Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1976. pp. 519-650.
(1954 first published)The central problem of this book is something that has preoccupied Jung for yearsprevious to writing the book - something that had fermented for several years until itwas ready to be written. The most immediate reason for this book, says Jung, appearsin
especially in regard to the problems of Christ as a symbolic figure and of theantagonism Christ-Antichrist, represented in the traditional zodiacal symbol of the twofishes.In connection to the discussions on the doctrine of redemption, Jung criticizes the notionof private and primary good. Psychologically, he claims, whenever there is what wecall the good it is balanced by the presence of the bad or evil. In this we find Jung'sdoctrine of psychological compensation.Other issues Jung mentions in this note is that early Christianity was monotheistic--itunited opposites in one god. Later Christianity, he notes, became dualistic, "inasmuchas it splits off one half of the opposites, personified in Satan...." This is the crucialquestion over the doctrine of redemption. It is important as if Christianity claims that itis a monotheism, it is unavoidable to assume that the opposites are contained in god.But there is the problem of Job. And it is the task of this book to point out theevolution of this problem through the centuries.
In this survey, Jung places emphasis on the means by which god was symbolized. Hewonders how such symbols should be understood. It is here that a complex paradoxappear when one encounters the story of Job: Job expected help from God againstGod. This fact presupposes, in Jung's opinion, a similar conception of the opposites inGod.
Jung begins by pointing out the differences between what is considered to be aphysical fact and religious belief. He notes that most of the problem rests upon therequirement for material existence of such facts. If, he suggests, we replace the notionof a physical fact with that of a
psychic truth
then we have a more amiable situation.Psychic facts are what could be called facts based upon faith and religiousstatements are of this order--i.e., they refer without exception to things which cannotbe established as physical facts--otherwise they would fall in the domain of naturalsciences. Thus the emphasis is not placed on the physical actuality of a thing but uponits
meaning value
.The fact that religious statements often conflict with observed physical phenomenaproves that, in contrast to physical perception, the psyche is autonomous and thatpsychic experience is to a certain extent independent of physical data. Thus he writes:"The psyche is an autonomous factor, and religious statements are psychic confessionswhich in the last resort are based on unconscious, i.e., on transcendental, processes."These are not visible to the physical senses but still influence human consciousness. Thuswhenever we speak of religious contents we move into a world of image, metaphor,and imagination. Thus ideas of god and the like manipulate human images and ideaswhich are dependent upon the human imagination and its temporal and spatiallocations and cannot helped being manipulated and altered several times over thecourse of human history. To Jung all of these images relate to a few basic principlesor archetypes. And archetypes are unknowable--we can only know theirmanifestations in culture.So when we move into this realm of the metaphysical, we must keep in mind that weare entering the world of images and imagination and that none of our reflection willactually touch upon, as Jung calls it, "the essence of the Unknowable." Still he remindsus that we must also remember that the archetypes exist on an emotional foundationwhich is unassailable by reason (shades of James), i.e., we are dealing with psychicfacts which logic can overlook but not eliminate. We are considering statements of the
soul which are as natural as they are common, as common as they are religious and soon.Statements of the soul can be anything, conscious or unconscious, that relate theindividual to the world in a meaningful way as well as pointing the individual beyondthe here and now--the telic function. Statements of the soul are spontaneousphenomena which are not subject to our will, and, by this, we are justified is ascribingto them a certain degree of autonomy. Thus they can be described as both objectiveand subjective phenomena. To objectify them, however, is to loose sight of theirautonomy; while to consider them from the opposite view is to admit that they have akind of free will and consciousness.In this we find two means of dealing with soul statements and, indeed, all phenomena.We can consider them as being outside of the self or inside of the self. We canconsider what kind of affect we have upon it and what kind of affect it has upon us.This, Jung claims, brings about an unavoidable dualism which may create a certaindegree of confusion. (literalism vs. metaphors)In the following we will be dealing with certain religious traditions and ideas. Sincewe will be dealing with what is call the numinous (sacred...), our emotions will bechallenged as much as will our intellects. Hence, Just as Jung cannot write in anobjective manner, so can we not read the material objectively. Rather, he insists, wemust allow our emotional subjectivity to speak if we want to understand what it is thatwe feel when we look at the material. Jung goes on to note that he is not writing as abiblical scholar, but as a layman and a doctor who has had the opportunity to lookinto the psychic live of many individuals. Thus what is expressed in this text is primarilyJung's own personal viewpoint, but he says that he speaks in the name of manypeople who have had similar experiences.
The book of Job is a landmark of a long historical development of a divine drama. Atthe time it was written there was already many testimonies of the contradictory natureof Yhwh--a picture of a god who knew no moderation in his emotions and sufferedfor this, i.e., that god was jealous, wrathful, etc. To Jung such a psychic condition ispossible only where there is no conscious reflection at all or it is very feeble. This is acondition that Jung calls

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