Recent contributions to the IAJS conference – Cape Town (July 2017)

The Principle, Co-Investigator and Research officer of the ‘One World’ project recently attend the International Association of Jungian Studies conference in Cape Town, South Africa (July 27th – 30th, Centre for the Book). The title of the conference was ‘The Spectre of the Other’. The project team presented on panel to all the delegates. The title of the panel was ‘Jung, Deleuze and the Problematic whole’. Below is a selection of the material presented.

Jung, Deleuze, and the problematic whole

This panel is based on work undertaken by members of ‘“One world”: logical and ethical implications of holism’, a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) (;  The project aims to determine key strands of thinking underpinning contemporary holism, especially within the field of psychotherapy, and what ethical implications might most reasonably be drawn from such thinking.  It focuses on the influential but contrasting concepts of the whole in the works of the depth psychologist C. G. Jung and the post-structuralist philosopher Gilles Deleuze.  The three papers in this panel discuss resonances between the thought of Jung and Deleuze and their implications for the practice of psychotherapy (Henderson); a Deleuzian critique identifying fundamental limitations in Jung’s concept of the whole (McMillan); and the possibility of articulating a concept of the whole that remains consistent with Jung’s thought yet can answer the Deleuzian critique (Main).

Professor Roderick Main:

Creative holism: metaphysics for engaging otherness

There is deep resonance between the psychological thought of C. G. Jung (1875-1961) and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995), based variously on shared problems, common sources, and (from Jung to Deleuze) direct if concealed influence.  However, it has also been powerfully argued that Deleuze’s philosophy of difference and pure immanence can provide the basis for a fundamental critique of the concept of wholeness underpinning Jung’s psychological model, calling into question the ability of Jungian psychology genuinely either to be creative or to engage with otherness.  This paper explores whether this critique is answerable, either by refining Jung’s thought or by challenging the assumptions of the Deleuzian critique.  The paper focuses on the understanding and role of immanence and transcendence within each thinker’s model, comparing Deleuze’s more pantheistic concept of the whole, which aims at pure immanence, with Jung’s more panentheistic concept, which embraces both immanence and transcendence.  A site for this comparison is the influence on both Jung and Deleuze of Western esoteric thought.  Some key questions are whether Jung does indeed use transcendence as a means of placing favoured aspects of identity beyond change and so limiting his capacity for engaging otherness; whether pure immanence, as conceived by Deleuze, firstly is adequately theorised and secondly really does foster greater creativity and openness to alterity; and whether, overall, this encounter between the models of Jung and Deleuze can contribute to a more open concept of the whole and an enriched form of what may be termed creative holism.

Roderick Main – Creative holism

Dr David Henderson:

Deleuze and psychoanalysis

The uncanny experience of being reminded of Jung when one is reading Deleuze is expressed by Žižek in characteristically pithy fashion: “No wonder, then, that an admiration of Jung is Deleuze’s corpse in the closet; the fact that Deleuze borrowed a key term (rhizome) from Jung is not a mere insignificant accident – rather, it points toward a deeper link.” This deeper link has been more sympathetically explored by Kerslake, Semetsky and McMillan. Hallward observes, “If there is an analogue within the psychoanalytic tradition to Deleuze’s conception of the cosmos-brain it is not Lacan’s unconscious, but Jung’s cosmic consciousness.” Most academic work on the relationship between Deleuze and Guattari and psychoanalysis focuses on theoretical and personal links with Lacan. This paper explores resonance between the thought of Deleuze and Guattari and Jung, with particular focus on the practice of psychotherapy.

David Henderson – Deleuze and the Passive Synthesis of Time (power-point)

David Henderson – Deleuze and the Passive Synthesis of Time

Dr Christian McMillan

The basis of autonomy in Jung’s model of the psyche: the problematic of the Other as a ground of constitutive finitude

Is the Self a site of truly radical alterity? Is it a site of immanent ungrounding, the unconditioned of the condition? Or is the Self an overly structured foundation, one that does not fully extricate itself from what it conditions? These are primarily philosophical questions, which this paper seeks to address from a Deleuzian perspective. Scholarship on the status of the ‘Other’ in Analytical Psychology indicates competing accounts of its philosophical status in Jung’s thought. What kind of ‘otherness’ is incorporated into the ‘whole-Self’? Does this ‘whole’ contain implicit presuppositions that might logically serve to ‘erase’ otherness and difference? Whilst one can attempt to align the notion of Self and Other within a Levinasian discourse, this may not adequately represent its construction in Jung’s thought as either a transcendental postulate or thing-in-itself: two kinds of foundation for constitutive finitude which do not go far enough in safeguarding otherness/difference. In both accounts it is the status of ‘identity’ that is problematic in terms of the alterity or difference of otherness. Seeking to account for the unity-identity of the ‘whole’, it could be argued that the structure and dynamics of Jung’s model of the psyche logically prohibit (a priori) an overcoming or act of transcendence (Fichte, Heidegger) because the ‘whole’ always refers to a being external, outside or superior to the world which guarantees the continuity between the world of perception and the realm of transcendence. This attempt at guarantee, to ground constitutive finitude in a prior identity, closes the ‘gap’ between subject and transcendental subject.

Christian McMillan – IAJS pps


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