Why Read Carl Jung?
Three Tuesdays, November 30, December 7 & 14, 6-8pm EDT (See time zone converter if you’re in a different location to make sure you get the time right.)
Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961) was a Swiss psychoanalyst who has had a lasting influence on how we think and talk about our lives. His concepts, including archetypes, synchronicity, and the collective unconscious, continue to permeate a wide range of topics (gender, religion, politics, self-improvement, etc.). But how accurate is the popular understanding of Jung? How accurately is Jung represented by his current advocates? How consistent was Jung himself, in the application of his own concepts and in the elaboration of his psychology? To what extent Jung’s ideas, and his own humanity, become captive to the simplistic and vulgar images of him in popular culture?
In this three-part seminar, we turn to some of the theoretical basics of Jungian psychology, relying on Jung’s own writing. We will spend time on Jung’s ideas about the unconscious, the archetypes, psychotherapy, spirituality, and his theory of psychological types. We will examine how much of Jung’s ideas are about fixating on the past, as opposed to engaging with the present realities. Moreover, our aim is to understand Jung as sympathetically and precisely as we can, to enter into a dialogue with his work, to remove him from the position of an infallible guru (where he is neither interesting nor enlightening). We will talk about Jung’s ideas—and the interrelation between his ideas—as well as the relevance of those ideas to our own lives. This seminar is designed for people who are either new to Jung or have a vague familiarity with Jung and would like to learn more. There will be readings assigned for each session (about 20-30 pages per session, provided beforehand to the participants). Each session will consist of a half-hour presentation, followed by discussion of selected passages.
Session 1, November 30. We begin our discussion with “Basic Postulates of Analytic Psychology” (1931) and “The Relations between the Ego and the Unconscious” (1928). We address a few central ideas that shape Jung’s thought: the spirit of the age, consciousness, the (personal/collective) unconscious, ego, the self, and loss of soul.
Session 2, December 7. We turn to archetypes and our discussion will be based on two chapters: “On the Concept of the Archetype” (1938) and “The Psychology of the Child Archetype” (1940). We address additional key concepts in Jungian psychology, including shadow and persona. We also differentiate Jung’s treatment of archetypes and his theory of psychological types.
Session 3, December 14. We will turn to the therapeutic aspect of Jungian psychology, discussing “The Aims of Psychotherapy” (1931) and “On Synchronicity” (1951). We will pay attention to a few additional key concepts in Jung’s thought: healing, individuation, and integration. In keeping with the approach of Incite Seminars, our guiding question throughout the seminar is: How can we think with, and what can we do with, an understanding Jungian psychology?
Reading: Besides the seminar material, if you’d like to purchase a book, I’d recommend one of the following two: The Essential Jung (Edited by Anthony Storr, 1983/2013) or the Jung Reader (Edited by David Tacey, 2012).
Facilitator: Davood Gozli completed his PhD in Psychology at University of Toronto (2015). He has been visiting researcher at University of Vienna (2014), postdoctoral fellow at Leiden University (2015-2016), and Assistant Professor at University Macau (2016-2021). His book, Experimental Psychology and Human Agency, presents an overarching critique of cognitive-experimental psychology (Springer, 2019). He resigned from his tenure-track position in 2021, and he currently lives in Toronto. He blogs at Explorations of Selfhood and Communities.
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