Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 13, No 2 (2017)

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Jung in Dialogue with Freud and Patañjali

Leanne Whitney


For both Jung and Patañjali our human desire to understand "God" is as real as any other instinct. Jung's and Patañjali's models further align in their emphasis on the teleological directedness of the psyche, and their aim at reconciling science and religious experience. As an atheist, Freud was in disagreement, but all three scholars align in their emphasis on the study of affect as an empirical means of entering into the psyche. For Patañjali, the nadir of affect lays in transcending sorrow and stabilizing the mind. Mental stability in turn produces the capacity to fully differentiate between the binding states of mind, which lead to human suffering, and the experience of pure consciousness resting in authentic nature. Contemporary brain research indicates that conscious states are inherently affective-further, the upper brainstem is intrinsically conscious whereas the cortex is not; it derives its consciousness from the brainstem. Understanding consciousness, then, may have less to do with reflective cognition than with instinct. This research spotlights the phenomena of affect, as it appears to not only draw us back to the highly significant rupture of the Freud Jung dialogue, but also forward into formulating a contemporary clinical picture of the drive towards (or away from) religious experience.

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