Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 14, No 2 (2018)

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Innate and Emergent: Jung, Yoga and the Archetype of the Self Encounter the Objective Measures of Affective Neuroscience

Leanne Whitney


Jung's individuation process, the central process of human development, relies heavily on several core philosophical and psychological ideas including the unconscious, complexes, the archetype of the Self, and the religious function of the psyche. While working to find empirical evidence of the psyche's religious function, Jung studied a variety of subjects including the Eastern liberatory traditions of Buddhism and Patañjali's Classical Yoga. In these traditions, Jung found substantiation of his ideas on psychospiritual development. Although Jung's career in soul work was lengthy, throughout, he aimed to steer clear of metaphysics. Patañjali's metaphysics, on the other hand, are straightforward, and his ontological commitments are evident. Because Jung's ontological commitments were not explicit, his theories, when seen through Patañjali's lens, confuse ontological questions with epistemic issues. As a result, when comparing the Jungian and Patañjalian notions of the Self, Jung's insightful ideas seem to be constructed upon a considerably shaky foundation. Yet, utilizing the exceptionally consistent ontological and epistemological commitments of Patañjali Yoga, as well as the objective measures of affective neuroscience, brings credence to the innate aspects and instinctual nature of Jung's archetype of the Self, and assists in answering the question of whether the archetype is innate or emergent.

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