Working Papers

Esse in Anima: The problem of Grounding between Jung and Deleuze


Christian McMillan (Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies: The University of Essex)

DRAFT of July 2016: not for citation in any publication.


The author investigates an immanent reading of grounding in Jung’s conception of the ground through an examination of the way in which Jung employs esse in anima (soul). Grounding concerns the “gap” between experience and its conditions. Transcendent, transcendental, immanent and immanent-genetic accounts which deal with the problem of the “gap” (or ‘constitutive finitude’) are evident in Jung’s work on the grounding of psychic experience. My argument is undertaken through an engagement with the philosophical thought of Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) with specific reference to his critical re-working of Immanuel Kant’s notion of the Idea. The essay begins by asking why a process of grounding needs to be undertaken by Jung and some of the problems that this process might entail (i.e. determining the ground from the side of the conditioned). The second half of the essay attempts to address how Jung potentially avoids some of these problems through his use of esse in anima. Rarely has the thought of Gilles Deleuze and Jung been aligned in this way. However, doing so may be of value when situating Jung’s thought within a post-structuralist context whilst drawing from elements within his thought directly. I borrow extensively from the work of Paul Bishop (2000) and Christian Kerslake (2002, 2007, 2009) to help forge a path between Jung and Deleuze as both in their respective studies have mined resources in Jung’s work which make this possible. Scholarship which explicitly addresses the notion of a ground in Jung’s depth psychology is scare although not non-existent. Robin McCoy Brooks (2011) and John Dourley (2011) examine “foundationalism” and “ground” respectively. Brooks’ critique is orientated from a philosophical perspective whilst Dourley considers the religious and esoteric heritage from which Jung drew inspiration when attempting to characterise his notion of the ground. Whilst I consider Jung’s foundationalism to be problematic my conclusions differ from those offered by Brooks. Dourley’s findings can be used to support both a transcendent and immanent conception of the ground but they do not challenge the form of identity.