Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thoughts While Reading Jung

1) We are not a tabula rasa. Certain ideas are inborn, such as the numbers 1 through 3, the tendency to learn nouns before verbs and adjectives. These initial qualities give us a framework by which to learn more sophisticated ways of communicating and thinking. As we learn new concepts, such as how to conceptualize large numbers or subtract them from one another, we ground our thoughts by associating them with familiar concepts. For instance, when I was in the first grade, I learned to work math problems by visualizing people and animals. Others employ different techniques, which color their understanding of math for the rest of their lives. For instance, I still associate numbers with personalities. Somebody else might associate them with colors or even moods. Because of these different approaches to integrating new knowledge, everyone has a distinct way of looking at and conceptionalizing information. This, in turn, helps different people see different patterns within the information. As education becomes increasingly homogenized, will perceptions also become homogenized? Will the cost be a decline in innovation? Will the benefit be an improved ability to communicate and understand one another? Perhaps China and the U.S. as an example?

2) According to Jung, "primitive" peoples are more inclined to associate personalities to animals, trees, and stones, as well as animals to people. These associations then turn into seemingly irrational beliefs. For instance, a man might believe that he's a parrot, and the rest of his society will concur. Others might believe that their soul is bound to a particular tree, and whatever happens to this tree will happen to them. In modern society, we've drawn firmer lines between ourselves and other things. How did this transition take place? Did religion play a role? Were the middle ages a period of evolution, albeit a painful one? Was the modern tendency towards science seeded and nurtured by the dualism of Christianity?

3) "What we find instead of God is a neurosis or something worse, and the fear of God has changed into a phobia or anxiety neurosis. The emotion remains the same, only its object has changed its name and nature for the worse" (Jung, The Language of Dreams, 466). Idea worth exploring. People have cyclical emotional states. The religious and spiritual can externalize these emotions, while the secular internalize them. Alternatively, the secular can externalize them onto situations or other people. They can blame a lover or employer for the cyclical feelings of despair that haunt us all. Perhaps this is what leads the unrooted to move from lover to lover, from job to job, from city to city.

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