Jung: On Consciousness
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Man's capacity for consciousness alone makes him man.

"On the Nature of the Psyche" (1947). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. P.412


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Without consciousness there would, practically speaking, be no world, for the world exists for us only in so far as it is consciously reflected by a psyche. Consciousness is a precondition of being. Thus the psyche is endowed with the dignity of a cosmic principle, which philosophically and in fact gives it a position co-equal with the principle of physical being. The carrier of this consciousness is the individual, who does not produce the psyche of his own volition but is, on the contrary, preformed by it and nourished by the gradual awakening of consciousness during childhood. If therefore the psyche is of overriding empirical importance, so also is the individual, who is the only immediate manifestation of the psyche.

"The Undiscovered Self" (1957). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. P. 528


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In the same way that the State has caught the individual, the individual imagines that he has caught the psyche and holds her in the hollow of his hand. He is even making a science of her in the absurd supposition that the intellect, which is but a part and a function of the psyche, is sufficient to comprehend the much greater whole. In reality the psyche is the mother and the maker, the subject and even the possibility of consciousness itself. It reaches so far beyond the boundaries of consciousness that the latter could easily be compared to an island in the ocean. Whereas the island is small and narrow, the ocean is immensely wide and deep and contains a life infinitely surpassing, in kind and degree, anything known on the island-so that if it is a question of space, it does not matter whether the gods are "inside" or "outside." It might be objected that there is no proof that consciousness is nothing more than an island in the ocean. Certainly it is impossible to prove this, since the known range of consciousness is confronted with the unknown extension of the unconscious, of which we only know that it exists and by the very fact of its existence exerts a limiting effect on consciousness and its freedom.

"Psychology and Religion" (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P. 141


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Our consciousness does not create itself-it wells up from unknown depths. In childhood it awakens gradually, and all through life it wakes each morning out of the depths of sleep from an unconscious condition.

"The Psychology of Eastern Meditation" (1943). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.935


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Just as conscious contents can vanish into the unconscious, other contents can also arise from it. Besides a majority of mere recollections, really new thoughts and creative ideas can appear which have never been conscious before. They grow up from the dark depths like a lotus.

"Approaching the Unconscious" In Man and His Symbols (1964), In CW 18: P.37


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If one reflects upon what consciousness really is, one is deeply impressed by the extremely wonderful fact that an event which occurs outside in the cosmos produces simultaneously an inner image. Thus it also occurs within; in other words, it becomes conscious.

From the Basel Seminar (1934)


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It is just man's turning away from instinct-his opposing himself to instinct-that creates consciousness. Instinct is nature and seeks to perpetuate nature, whereas consciousness can only seek culture or its denial. Even when we turn back to nature, inspired by a Rousseauesque longing, we "cultivate" nature. As long as we are still submerged in nature we are unconscious, and we live in the security of instinct which knows no problems. Everything in us that still belongs to nature shrinks away from a problem, for its name is doubt, and wherever doubt holds sway there is uncertainty and the possibility of divergent ways. And where several ways seem possible, there we have turned away from the certain guidance of instinct and are handed over to fear. For consciousness is now called upon to do that which nature has always done for her children namely, to give a certain, unquestionable, and unequivocal decision. And here we are beset by an all-too-human fear that consciousness-our Promethean conquest-may in the end not be able to serve us as well as nature.

"The Stages of Life" (1930). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. P. 750


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Every advance, every conceptual achievement of mankind, has been connected with an advance in self awareness: man differentiated himself from the object and faced Nature as something distinct from her. Any reorientation of psychological attitude will have to follow the same road.

"General Aspects of Dream Psychology" (1916). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. P. 523


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Whatever name we may put to the psychic background, the fact remains that our consciousness is influenced by it in the highest degree, and all the more so the less we are conscious of it. The layman can hardly conceive how much his inclinations, moods, and decisions are influenced by the dark forces of his psyche, and how dangerous or helpful they may be in shaping his destiny. Our cerebral consciousness is like an actor who has forgotten that he is playing a role. But when the play comes to an end, he must remember his own subjective reality, for he can no longer continue to live as Julius Caesar or as Othello, but only as himself, from whom he has become estranged by a momentary sleight of consciousness. He must know once again that he was merely a figure on the stage who was playing a piece by Shakespeare, and that there was a producer as well as a director in the background who, as always, will have something very important to say about his acting.

"Zur Umerziehung des deutschen Volkes" (On the Re-education of the Germans). In Basler Nachrichten, Nr. 486, 16 November 1946. P.332


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It suits our hypertrophied and hubristic modern consciousness not to be mindful of the dangerous autonomy of the unconscious and to treat it negatively as an absence of consciousness. The hypothesis of invisible gods or daemons would be, psychologically, a far more appropriate formulation, even though it would be an anthropomorphic projection. But since the development of consciousness requires the withdrawal of all the projections we can lay our hands on, it is not possible to maintain any non-psychological doctrine about the gods. If the historical process of world despiritualization continues as hitherto, then everything of a divine or daemonic character outside us must return to the psyche, to the inside of the unknown man, whence it apparently originated.

"Psychology and Religion" (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P 141


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The reason why consciousness exists, and why there is an urge to widen and deepen it, is very simple: without consciousness things go less well. This is obviously the reason why Mother Nature deigned to produce consciousness, that most remarkable of all nature's curiosities. Even the well-nigh unconscious primitive can adapt and assert himself, but only in his primitive world, and that is why under other conditions he falls victim to countless dangers which we on a higher level of consciousness can avoid without effort. True, a higher consciousness is exposed to dangers dreamt of by the primitive, but the fact remains that the conscious man has conquered the earth and not the unconscious one. Whether in the last analysis, and from a superhuman point of view, this is an advantage or a calamity we are not in a position to decide.

"Analytical Psychology and Weltanshauung" (1928). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. P. 695


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And yet the attainment of consciousness was the most precious fruit of the tree of knowledge, the magical weapon which gave man victory over the earth, and which we hope will give him a still greater victory over himself.

"The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man" (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. P. 289


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"Reflection" should be understood not simply as an act of thought, but rather as an attitude. It is a privilege born of human freedom in contradistinction to the compulsion of natural law. As the word itself testifies ("reflection" means literally "bending back"), reflection is a spiritual act that runs counter to the natural process; an act whereby we stop, call something to mind, form a picture, and take up a relation to and come to terms with what we have seen. It should, therefore, be understood as an act of becoming conscious.

"A Psychological Approach to the Dogma of the Trinity" (1942). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P. 235


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There is no other way open to us; we are forced to resort to conscious decisions and solutions where formerly we trusted ourselves to natural happenings. Every problem, therefore, brings the possibility of a widening of consciousness, but also the necessity of saying goodbye to childlike unconsciousness and trust in nature. This necessity is a psychic fact of such importance that it constitutes one of the most essential symbolic teachings of the Christian religion. It is the sacrifice of the merely natural man, of the unconscious, ingenuous being whose tragic career began with the eating of the apple in Paradise. The biblical fall of man presents the dawn of consciousness as a curse. And as a matter of fact it is in this light that we first look upon every problem that forces us to greater consciousness and separates us even further from the paradise of unconscious childhood.

"The Stages of Life" (1930). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. P. 751


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There are many people who are only partially conscious. Even among absolutely civilized Europeans there is a disproportionately high number of abnormally unconscious individuals who spend a great part of their lives in an unconscious state. They know what happens to them, but they do not know what they do or say. They cannot judge of the consequences of their actions. These are people who are abnormally unconscious, that is, in a primitive state. What then finally makes them conscious? If they get a slap in the face, then they become conscious; something really happens, and that makes them conscious. They meet with something fatal and then they suddenly realize what they are doing.

From the "Basel Seminar" (1934)


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The stirring up of conflict is a Luciferian virtue in the true sense of the word. Conflict engenders fire, the fire of affects and emotions, and like every other fire it has two aspects, that of combustion and that of creating light. On the one hand, emotion is the alchemical fire whose warmth brings everything into existence and whose heat burns all superfluities to ashes (omnes superfluitates comburit). But on the other hand, emotion is the moment when steel meets flint and a spark is struck forth, for emotion is the chief source of consciousness. There is no change from darkness to light or from inertia to movement without emotion.

"Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype" (1939). In CW 9, Part I: The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. P. 179


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The man we call modern, the man who is aware of the immediate present, is by no means the average man. He is rather the man who stands upon a peak, or at the very edge of the world, the abyss of the future before him, above him the heavens, and below him the whole of mankind with a history that disappears in primeval mists. The modern man-or, let us say again, the man of the immediate present-is rarely met with, for he must be conscious to a superlative degree. Since to be wholly of the present means to be fully conscious of one's existence as a man, it requires the most intensive and extensive consciousness, with a minimum of unconsciousness. It must be clearly understood that the mere fact of living in the present does not make a man modern, for in that case everyone at present alive would be so. He alone is modern who is fully conscious of the present.

"The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man" (1928) In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. P. 149


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Every one of us gladly turns away from his problems; if possible, they must not be mentioned, or, better still, their existence is denied. We wish to make our lives simple, certain, and smooth, and for that reason problems are taboo. We want to have certainties and no doubts-results and no experiments-without even seeing that certainties can arise only through doubt and results only through experiment. The artful denial of a problem will not produce conviction: on the contrary, a wider and higher consciousness is required to give us the certainty and clarity we need.

"The Stages of Life" (1930). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. P. 751


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It seems to be very hard for people to live with riddles or to let them live, although one would think that life is so full of riddles as it is that a few more things we cannot answer would make no difference. But perhaps it is just this that is so unendurable, that there are irrational things in our own psyche which upset the conscious mind in its illusory certainties by confronting it with the riddle of its existence.

"The Philosophical Tree" (1945). In CW 13: Alchemical Studies. P. 307


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Everyone who becomes conscious of even a fraction of his unconscious gets outside his own time and social stratum into a kind of solitude.

Mysterium Coniunctionis (1955) CW 14: P 258


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Genesis represents the act of becoming conscious as a taboo infringement, as though knowledge meant that a sacrosanct barrier had been impiously overstepped. I think that Genesis is right in so far as every step towards greater consciousness is a kind of Promethean guilt: through knowledge, the gods are as it were robbed of their fire, that is, something that was the property of the unconscious powers is torn out of its natural context and subordinated to the whims of the conscious mind. The man who has usurped the new knowledge suffers, however, a transformation or enlargement of consciousness, which no longer resembles that of his fellow men. He has raised himself above the human level of his age ("ye shall become like unto God"), but in so doing has alienated himself from humanity. The pain of this loneliness is the vengeance of the gods, for never again can he return to mankind. He is, as the myth says, chained to the lonely cliffs of the Caucasus, forsaken of God and man.

"The Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious" (1953) CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. P. 243


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