Jung and the (In)Comprehension of Gender

I once attended a series of drama therapy workshops. As I entered the room one of the other participants – an ex-follower of the Bhagwan Shree Rajnesh – exclaimed ‘Oh good, we need some more male energy’. I looked behind me, but couldn’t see any. This remark expressed the core of Jung and his appeal: to reify gender-difference, and to do so in terms of ‘energy’. What this Bhagwanite saw – rather what she expressed – was not actually existing persons of a certain gender, but ‘energy’. This cameo points to that mystification of the real which is at the centre of the crypto-religion of Carl Gustav Jung.

I will nor be talking about ‘feminism’ so much as about the relevance – rather, irrelevance – of Jung for thinking about gender. The reason for doing this is, in part because to many he has seemed relevant to feminism. Though he has seemed relevant to feminism in a way which he has not to what preceded it, ie Women’s Liberation. The latter phrase refers to a material category and to a political process; the former to an essence and to theories from or about that essence. There is, of course, no question but that some women have found Jung’s vision attractive. Here is a typical expression of that attraction:
The primary appeal of Jung’s psychology to women … is that it is a ‘meaning-making’ psychology … Analytical psychology offers a balance to an overly rational, materialistic world … Jung defined the feminine largely in terms of receptivity …Jungian women feel .. receptivity is a quality much needed in the world, and that it is a form of empowerment

(WEHR Jung , p6)

One of the interesting features of this passage is its slippage from the category of ‘women’ to that of ‘the feminine’.

Though Jung may have some relevance to some conceptions of feminism, his relation to women’s liberation – or to any emancipatory project – is approximately that of Adolf Hitler. Indeed, part of the interest of Jung is that – along with Nietzsche and Nazi Party member Martin Heidegger – he is given great credence in present-day culture. It is a … curiosity … of our culture that though racism is regarded by all regions on the respectable spectrum as a paradigm of evil; yet philosophical expressions of fascism are not just tolerated, but venerated and the political affinities of their authors are routinely written out of history (see MURRAY ‘Barbarism’ and subsequent correspondence; GROSSMAN ‘Jung’ presents damming evidence for the depth of Jung’s sympathy for the NSDAP in general and the SS in particular)

Outside of those with a particular interest in Jung there is nothing like the academic commentary and interest that there is in Nietzsche and in Heidegger. However, he has a much greater presence in semi-popular culture: think of the ubiquity of such terms as ‘extraversion/introversion’ (used by a tradition in psychology which has consistently dissed Freud eg H J Eysenck and Anthony Storr); ‘archetypes; ‘the collective unconscious’. Jung is the fave philosopher of Prince Charley, due to his emphasis on the spiritual and his hostility to modernity (CHARLES ‘Healing’). This is at least in part due to the role of his acolyte Laurens van der Post as Chareley’s guru.

To see how Jung relates to the theorisation of gender we need to have a sense of his general meaning in culture. At this point I will anticipate where I am going by saying that my account of Jung is in part inspired by Adorno’s analysis of mysticism in his ‘The Stars Down to Earth – The Los Angeles Times astrology column’ and his ‘Theses Against Occultism’: One of Adorno’s central insights here is that occultism works as an ideology by offering a sham criticism to what is perceived as a mechanical, alienated and alienating world. Its criticism is a sham in that its central categories are translations from just that world to which it appears to be offering an alternative. What is offered appeals precisely because it is what is already familiar, yet is dressed up in a way which appears as an ‘alternative’ – a key word in that culture which preens itself on being oppositional to the Hegemony, yet is actually as much so as is the Glastonbury Festival; which is to say … not at all. This is how Adorno put it:
The real absurdity [ie of a societal order structured around commodity-production] is reproduced in the astrological hocus-pocus, which adduces the impenetrable connections of alienated elements – nothing more alien than the stars, as knowledge about the subject.
(ADORNO ‘Theses’, p241)

In other words, astrology is offered as a way of making sense of human relations in a world which is felt as inhuman, but what it uses to do so – stars and planets – are as far from humanity as can be. For Jungism human relations are expressed in terms of a physical category – energy. This has resonance in everyday speech in the use of ‘atmosphere’ and of ‘vibes’.

Now I must emphasise that when I say ‘Jung’ I mean the texts written by Carl Jung. In no way do I mean the person who was Jung. Biography is a frivolity and a distraction from the important matter, ie the texts of an author. It is a way of constructing a bogus familiarity with the work, which fit well with a commonsense that what matters is the individual and we all have our own point of view, and such useless banalities. However, in the case of Jung the situation is complicated by the importance which he, and his followers, have constructed around his own life:

The life of Jung becomes the basis of shared values and beliefs in the Jungian movement concerning the transcendent (the collective unconscious) and redemption (individuation). (NOLL Cult, p15)

A central text for this cult is Memories, Dreams, Reflections – which in fact is not his autobiography, but was written mainly by one of his disciples, and is unreliable as a source for his life (NOLL ibid, SHAMDASANI ‘Memories’, see SHAMDASANI Cult for a criticism of the wider claims of Noll’s book).

The Jung Icon

However, before we can deal with the texts of Jung we have to deal with something which is neither the texts nor the biography – the Jung Icon. This is involved with the Jung Cult, but has a presence outside of this.

The notion of the icon was suggested to me by a introductory comment by W W Sawyer in his introduction to maths (SAWYER Delight). He points out that ‘every subject has a shadow, a dummy’ and that much of schooling consists of learning the shadow, not the real thing. There is a similar situation for a group of intellectuals, of whom Jung is one. I use the term ‘icon’ in order to evoke the following associations:
·        An image of veneration … or of detestation.
·        A button on a puter screen which access a program; culturally something which is a stand-in for a whole variety of notions, values, allegiances, feelings.

·        Something which folks carry with them as a badge of identity.

The following are examples of cultural icons:


These are all writers whose images are familiar to us because they figure so frequently on the covers of books by and about them. Their names immediately call up well-known photographs of them (and there is a whole research project on how those phots came to be chose, rather than others). Each of them is the carrier for a whole range of cultural meanings. But then think of these names:


These are of comparable (not the same) political, intellectual and cultural importance as the first, but can we recall their images? Unlike those in the previous group, we may need to think twice as to who they are; also they tend to be referred to by their full names more often than the former. At least two of them are in the same trade, as it were, as Marx; yet neither Adam Smith nor Max Weber figured in the list of ‘great philosophers’ in the BBC R4 voteathon last year. Why? Because Smith and Weber are not carriers of broad cultural meanings in the way that Marx is. This is not to make a point about the intrinsic value of their work – it is about them as Icons. I would bet that if there were a similar competition for ‘the greatest psychologist’, then it would be won by Jung

A major feature of icons is that their meaning is indeterminate with respect to the actual texts of their authors. Their meanings are fabricated by a shifting and complex field of cultural desires, fears and phantasies – using a grammar not of logic but of association. How else can we make sense of that amazing phenomenon of Marx being voted the ‘greatest philosopher’ ? (See MURRAY & NEOCLEOUS ‘Marx’). The only way to make sense of this result is that the voters were really voting for their own self-image as caring folks who believed in justice, equality, helping the poor, recycling plastic bags and the like – not for anything to do with the texts of Marx or of the communist project.

You will note that all of these are names of men. I do not think that this is just my own gender-bias. But rather, that an icon is a hero, an intellectual hero, and that the hero is essentially an androcratic notion (see BALOGH Love).

The meaning of the Jung-icon is especially complex because so much of its meaning is as the contrary of another icon – Freud. Whenever I mention Jung in a remotely dissing tone, on 90% of occasions I get the knee-jerk ‘but he’s better than Freud’ – usually from persons who have read none of either..

The meanings of the Freud and Jung icons are even more complex than that of, for eg Marx, due to the imbrication of these icons with a range of psycho-therapeutic practices. It’s not uncommon for women to say that they are pro-Jung because of ‘having been validated as a woman’ through experience within Jungian therapy. (See above quote from WEHR).

So how is Jung constructed as an icon? This operates on the level of present-day Brit/Amerikan culture in general (a difficult notion, but I think we have enough of a rough grasp of it for it to be usable) and of regional cultures (vaguely dissident, vaguely alternative – that lifestyle dissed by the Sun as ‘Guardian reading, limp-wristed, lentil-eating’).

The Wider, hegemonic, culture

Jung is valorised by the dominant culture because a kind of mysticism has now become a part of ‘commonsense’. It is now a conversational commonplace to ask what someone’s zodiacal sign is. In many ways the commonsense of our culture resembles that account of the last years of the Romanovs given by Trotsky (TROTSKY History, Ch 4). Mystics and mediums are household names, belief in conspiracies and the modern equivalent of demons (i.e. ETs) is rife. Persons of otherwise sound mind give shelf-space to the I Ching and tarot cards – both of which were greatly valued by Carl Gustav.

A pervasive thread in this culture is a particular kind of what Lovejoy calls ‘metaphysical pathos, a characterization of the world to which one belongs .. which .. engenders, a congenial mood or tone of feeling’ (LOVEJOY Great, p11). This pervasive thread is ‘New Agery’. Its core is the view that Western “Being” is in process of an epochal shift from so-called “Nineteenth Century” reductive materialism towards a new spiritual awareness; supposedly the “yang” of masculinist totalitarian rationalism has come to the terminal point of its great historical cycle; we are now at the turning point (to use the title of Fritjof Capra’s once much-hyped book) through which flows forth the “yin” of a redemptive feminine relationship with the world.

The foundational trope of New Agery – ie that we are on the cusp of the shift to a new world of spiritual, not material, values – expresses one of the central categories of Jung’s thought: ‘balance’. Balance is a category which his system regards as operative both at the synchronic level – transverse slices through time; and at the diachronic level – cycles in history.

This category/phrase/metaphor should be problematised. It is now a conversational commonplace: ‘balanced’ diets are good; to be ‘unbalanced’ is bad. But where does this come from? A ‘balance’ is a mechanical device consisting of a beam pivoted on a fulcrum such that neither end of the beam dips below the height of the other. How did this image come to be used in the way it has? I suggest that the carrier from the discourse of mechanics to just about every discourse was in Blackstone’s account of the British Constitution as ‘balanced’. This image was derived from mechanics (BLACKSTONE Commentaries; BRIGGS Improvement, p89). It is surely odd that one of the central categories of a sensibility which defines itself against a world derided as mechanistic (the killer insult from this rhetoric is ‘Newtonian’) should use an image derived from the machine. This trope has widespread currency: ‘Things always come around again’; ‘Every action calls forth a reaction’; ‘Hippy parents have conventional kids’; ‘The Far Left is the mirror of the Far Right’. Here the appeal of Jung is that this central category – more than a category, the mould for all his categories – is deeply embedded in commonsense.

The single most ubiquitous item of Jungiana is his character taxonomy – partly its details, but more importantly the general notion of the pointfullness of such. Magazines are replete with personality tests; the discourse of managerialism is full it; it seems utterly obvious for persons to describe themselves as the carriers of abstract attributes: ‘I do so-and-so because I am of personality type x1 y3’. The hegemonic culture is obsessed with taxonomies – of which astrology is both the paradigm and the satire. We may note in passing that this obsession with a proliferating and ramifying typology of the personal goes along with a widespread dissing of the relevance of the notion of class in the economic sense (for a typical expression of this dissing of class, see CANNADINE Class, p1; for an example, beyond parody, of the use of Jung in a ‘spiritual’ managerialist discourse, seee ZOHAR & MARSHALL Spiritual. This is also a fine example of the invocation of the Jung Icon in way which plainly contradicts the texts – she uses his notion of the Collective Unconscious in criticism of materialism, whilst in fact he is clear that this is located in the brain structure).

‘Alternative’ Culture

In terms of ‘feminism’ his importance is that – contrary to that horrid patriarchialist Freud with his notion of penis envy, supposedly the psychic wound which marks all women (FREUD Psychical, p407) – Jung appears to regard the feminine as different to, but complementary with, the masculine. Yes, Jung asserts that a characteristic of the masculine is assertivity and rationality and that of femininity is passivity and emotionalism; but hey! what’s wrong with being passive and emotive?! To value the one over the other is – on this view – itself an expression of sexism: again, see above quote from Wehr.

At a deeper level Jung appeals because he is seen as an ally of that ‘anti-binarism’ which is such a feature of a certain kind of academic feminism (eg the talk of the ‘Feminism and Philosophy’ group of Philosophy for All, 28 September 2005 on Woman on the Edge of Time). This anti-binarism is not just a feature of academic feminism, it extends into wider areas of ‘alternative culture’. A striking example of this was a talk given to a conference of the Sexual Freedom Coalition in 2003 by a leading bisexual activist which bundled together binarisms of what are actually entirely different logical grammars – wealth, gender, race, sexuality. (see <****>)

Part of Jung’s glamour is precisely because his thought on gender is actually structured around an ultra-rigid binarism, which yet presents itself as the negation of this. Like astrology, Jungism gives back to common-sense that very same common-sense, but tarted up in exotic dress. Nietzsche remarks that this is what ‘philosophy’ does, i.e. to recycle the dogmas of common-sense, but in a manner which the common-man finds barely comprehensible. It is a neat twist that his great fan, Carl Gustav, does the same. One level of the appeal of this binarism is that he appears to speak from the viewpoint of the ‘East’ – for some time now it has been a feature of Romanticist cultural dissidence to look to an image of the East. This image is actually a blend of ‘Orientalism’ (an Other, which is both the negation and the complement of the self) and of ‘Ornamentalism’ (A construction to replicate those feature of one’s own culture which are seen as being corroded by modernity) (See NOTE 1). Of course, it is incoherent to favour the ‘East’ because of its supposed freedom from those horrid binarisms characteristic of the ‘West’ because this is itself a binarity. But pointing this out has the same effect as telling a relativist that in asserting the truth of relativism they avow what they pretend to deny … i.e. no effect whatsoever.

Woman’s Place is …

But … let’s cut to the action … what did Jung actually say about actual women ? This is a typical remark:
women … have begun to take up masculine professions, to become active in politics, to sit on committees etc., we can see that woman is in the process of breaking with the purely feminine pattern of unconsciousness and passivity, and has made a concession to masculine psychology … Certainly the courage and self-sacrifice of such women is admirable … But no-one can get around the fact that by taking up a masculine profession, studying and working like a man, woman is doing something not wholly in accord with, if not directly injurious to, her feminine nature. She is doing something that would scarcely be possible for a man to do, unless he were a Chinese. Could he, for instance, be a nursemaid or run a kindergarten? … A man should live as a man and a woman as a woman.

(JUNG’Woman’, pp117-8)

Jung spells out the nature of the alleged injury that a woman may do to herself by working in a ‘masculine profession’:
She develops a kind of rigid intellectuality based on so-called principles, and backs them up with a whole host of arguments which always just miss the point in the most irritating way, and always injects a little something into the problem that is not really there. Unconscious assumptions or opinions are the worst enemy of woman; they can even grow into a positively demonic passion that exasperates and disgusts men, and does the woman herself the greatest injury by gradually smothering the charm and meaning of her femininity … such a development naturally ends in profound psychological disunion, in short, in a neurosis

 (JUNG ‘Woman’, p119)

There is a common, predictable and predictably banal response to these paragraphs – even from those for whom these are the first words of Jung they have actually read: ‘He was a man of his time’.

There are several answers to this response:
·        What else could he be?, else he were Dr Who or Roy Bhaskar? (see Note 2)
·        So what? A ‘time’ is not a monolith – there were plenty then who would have dissed this sexist drivel. Though there were certainly those of ‘his time’ who would have agreed with this. I suggest reading the selections from speeches and newspapers of the Third Reich on women in the Nazi Revolution reprinted in George Mosse’s anthology (MOSSE Nazi). See if you can find anything there which is inconsistent with the papers I reference by Jung in Civilization in Transition.
·        It is …. odd … that the same sensibility which uses historicity to exculpate Jung uses the same device to diss Marx.

·        The same could be said of Hitler

So at the very least these comments of his should give pause to anyone who wants to claim him as an ally of feminism.

The more interesting response is that these remarks should be seen as obiter dicta, and not part of his central theoretical system. In 1946 – of his assuming the presidency in 1933 of a professional society which was in the process of being nazified – he said: ‘Well, I slipped up’ (SAMUELS’Foreword’, p.vii). He was here very … generous … to his earlier self, some may wish to be likewise generous to these remarks about the proper place of women. But it should be clear that generosity is inconsistent with the status which Jung and his followers have ascribed to him – a prophet, a seer, a shaman: You cannot both claim to have super-human perception and beg indulgence for human failings.

However, these confident remarks on the proper place of women were not just obiter dicta, they were consistent expressions of the core of Jung’s thought. To understand this core we need to be aware not of ‘Jung’s time’ – as if this were a clear and objective datum – but of how Jung saw himself in history.

From first to last he excoriated modernity and modernism. He makes much of the fact that the first translation of the Hindu Upanishads was in 1789 (JUNG ‘Spiritual’, pp86-7). So that just as ‘chaos’, viz ‘the people’, ‘the mob’ was appearing on the streets of Europe so was appearing the beginnings a restitution of Order. This was the germ of the switch from one world – the Enlightenment – just as this world was at its height. We may wonder what, on this logic, Jung would have made of the fact the man who introduced Yoga into the UK, Major-General Fuller, was a fascist and a leading theorist of armoured warfare who much influence the military thinking of the Third Reich. The Panzers were, of course, emblazoned with a well-known mandala as they carried the spirit of the Counter-Enlightenment across Europe. It should be noted that for Jung revolution is disturbance – to be deplored, it is the emergence of darkness. He shared both his hatred of the French Revolution and his fondness for Hindu caste society with Nietzsche. Again, we find this anti-modernism echoed in the pronouncements of Prince Tampax on the need to reintegrate a fragmented world and to return to ‘human values’ (CHARLES ‘Healing’).

Jung clearly regarded his project as part of the Counter-Enlightenment. This is endorsed by one of the standard histories of psychodynamics:
Jung’s analytic psychology, like Freud’s psychoanalysis, is a late offshoot of Romanticism, but psychoanalysis is also the heir of positivism, scientism, and Darwinism, whereas analytic psychology rejects that heritage, and returns to the unaltered sources of psychiatric Romanticism and philosophy of nature.

(ELLENBERGER Discovery, p657)

In coming to explain the core of his system in order to show that his patriarchal disdain for working women is not an aberration we immediately encounter the problem that Jung both absolutises and relativises his system. In 1912, as he was breaking his relations with Freud, he presents his psychology in Ch IV, ‘The Problem of the Attitude Type’, in The Psychology of the Unconscious. He confronts the difference between the theories of Freud and of Adler and reduces them to the claim that for Freud what matters in psychic matters is the object; whereas for Adler it is the subject. He asks how this is possible, when both investigators where faced with the same material. His answer is simple: they each produced psychologies which were one-sided expressions of their own personal psychologies. He, Jung is able to see this and rise above this to produce a psychology which does justice to both sides of the matter.

Idealism in Practice

He does this by positing the existence of two ‘human types, one of them more interested in the object, the other more interested in himself’ (JUNG Psych Uncs, p42). It was this which led to his well-known character typology based on the two fundamental types of the extravert and the introvert. He developed this typology to generate eight types, arranged on three dimensions, thus giving that favourite figure of the mystics – the sphere. We should note, in passing, that there is absolutely no comparable formalism in the work of Freud. Jung both asserts that all psychologies are expressions of the psychology of the psychologist, and that his is true. The only way around this is, of course, to assert that he himself somehow occupies a privileged point from which to have a true perspective on the human psyche – in other words that he has the vision of a shaman. Psychologies are relative, but his system is absolute: therefore what Jung offers is not at all a psychology, but is a religion. (see NOLL Cult)

It was this problem of the contradictory theories of Freud and of Adler which led Jung to ‘the problem of opposites .. an inherent principle of human nature’ (JUNG Psych Uncs, p58)

Whilst the psychology of Freud recognises gender imbalances of power and then roots them in biology, Jung asserts that there are no such imbalances, just a functional difference.
In contrast with the apparent sexism of Freud, Jung appears to equally value the masculine and the feminine. He asserts that no existing man is entirely masculine, but has within him some of the feminine, and inversely for women; masculine and feminine are different but complementary. The Yang is the complement of the Yin, the rational of the intuitive, the active of the passive, the analytic of the synthetic, the hard of the soft, the mountain of the valley … and so on. This is well expressed by a feminist Jungian, appreciating Jung from the standpoint of late 1970s counter-culturalism.
Anima, the Latin word for ‘soul’ is in the feminine gender. It refers to the feminine element that exists in man and remains .. largely unconscious. As a man’s ‘normal’ consciousness is masculine for the most part, his soul, or anima, becomes the container for the unconscious processes that are constantly taking place in him. Likewise .. a masculine soul, or animus, for woman, as the carrier of the unconscious. Anima and animus are the contrasexual opposites that form the basis of Jung’s psychosexual theory

(SINGER Androgyny, p45)

The view of the mind advanced by Jung is that a member of one gender has within them a kind of inner-self which is of the other gender. The man has his anima, the woman her animus. I have never really grasped how it is that anyone can see this view as being anti-binarist, far less anti-sexist. All it does is to hypostatise difference, not dissolve it or problematise it. You do not deconstruct a polarity by asserting either that there is a spectrum between the poles, or by asserting that each pole has a germ of the other within it. You deconstruct polarities by showing that each pole is actually a reification of tendencies.

This is the logic which Jung uses in fabricating his polarity:

1) Isolate certain characteristics of actually existing men and women and mix these up with taken-for-granted cultural fabrications of maleness and femaleness. What I mean by this is that some of the ascriptions of personality types to actually-existing men and women may be empirically accurate, whilst are some of the same status as urban myths (eg of the first: there are no women chess players in Kasparov’s league; of the second: women are poor drivers).

2) Purportedly explain these empirical facts by claiming that they are the expression of one pole of a binarity, eg the alleged poorness of women as drivers is due to lack of assertiveness, which is then seen as expressive of passivity.

3) Regard these as expressions of ideal essences. In other words, you take a bunch of particulars, abstract out of them a universal, hypostatise that universal, and then … hey … you find that your particulars are instantiations, embodiments, of that ideal universal. In other words you make a thing out of tendencies: to use the fancy term – you reify them. This is one of the central strategies of the ideological imagination. Its function is to ground local conditions of human existence in alleged universals. This was the constitutive error of Political Economy and the major object of Marx’s critique of such (MARX Grundrisse, pp85-8).

4) Assert correspondences between poles of each pair.

5) Regard each pair of poles (or analogies, or identities) as themselves embodiments of a universal generative essential polarity, that which in Chinese philosophy from at least the 8th C BCE is known as the Yin and the Yang. In the words of a standard history:
the Yang and Yin came to be regarded as two cosmic principles or forces, respectively representing masculinity, activity, heat, brightness, dryness, hardness, etc., for the Yang, and feminity, passivity, cold, darkness, wetness, softness, etc. for the Yin. Through the interaction of these two primary principles, all phenomena of the universe are produced

(YU-LAN History, p138)

Note the ‘etc.’ We will shortly return to this.

The theory of the Yang/Yin can be represented in the following figure:

YANG ————————————–YIN

Masculine ——————————————————–Feminine
Sunshine ——————————————————–Shadow
Active ——————————————————–Passive
Hard ——————————————————–Soft
Dry ——————————————————–Wet
Positive ——————————————————–Negative
Acid ——————————————————–Alkali
Energy ——————————————————–Matter
Right ——————————————————–Left
Up ——————————————————–Down
In ——————————————————–Out
Bill ——————————————————–Ben
This list begins with the poles, as in the quote from Fung Yu-Lan, it continues the ‘etc’. But can you tell where the ‘etc’ starts? Can you tell where I just make it up? More importantly, if you can tell … can you tell why? On what criteria do you see this?

Even more importantly: On what basis is the alignment of these poles established? For example, what is there in the nature of heat which so connects it with hardness? After all, water is both warmer and softer than is ice.

Imagine this list as a stack of rods, each pivoted at its centre. Each rod can be spun so that its alignment is reversed. There are just over 8 thousand ways in which this stack of rods can be aligned. But, on the theory of the Yang/Yin – of each of these pairs being the emanation of an underlying cosmic principle – there is only one way for the stack to be aligned. So what is the basis for aligning the poles of each pair? There is absolutely no answer from within this theory. The alignment is just given, that is how it is. There can be no further level of explication than there can be of the justification of a taboo, indeed that is part of the definition of a taboo. This is just how it is, this is how things are: Men are men (though with a touch of the feminine) and women are women (though with a touch of the masculine), and each should stick to the places, to the roles which the cosmic ordering of the Yin/Yang has assigned them to. This taboo-character of the Yin/Yang (or at least what is taken as such) is also part of its appeal for anti-modernist Europeans such as Jung (see POCOCK’Ritual’ for a discussion of the meta-ethics of ancient Chinese philosophy which is instantly recognisable to the European aristocratic/conservative sensibility).

So if there is no explanation for the alignment from within the logic of the Yin/Yang, there must be such from outside. The answer to this is very simple. Indeed, I can think of nothing else which can so well be described as inverting an idealist construction, so that what was resting on its head now rests on its feet.

To answer this, consider the figure of the Yin/Yang. This is a circle divided into half by an S-shaped line.

Now imagine two semi-circles, with their straight lines horizontal. The upper one has a column descending from the middle of its straight line into a hollow in the straight line of the lower one. This is a crude graffiti of male/female genital intercourse. Now fuse the two hemispheres together so that what we have is a circle divided by one line which at the centre dips down. Now twist this line into an S and we get the Yang\Yin figure.

[Sorry, not a very good description, if you see it, then it’s very clear. I cannae figure how to get a diagram here, so will graff a wall, photo it and put that up here. It’s a question of finding the best wall.]

In other words, the Yang/Yin figure is a transformation of a simple representation of sexual intercourse. This is surely the origin of its cosmic principles: That it was observed that all complex animals had two genders and this was then taken as the basis for a theory of the universe. This was, I suppose a bold feat of imagination for someone to make 2K or so years ago, comparable to Thales speculation that the underlying principle of all things was water. But why dredge it up now as if it were of anything other than antiquarian interest? Let us note in passing the comedy of a sensibility which routinely disses anything it dislikes as of the ‘Nineteenth Century’, yet promotes a world-view which is two millennia older.

To put it simply: Jung’s notion of gender differences is the projection onto the cosmos of the most banal categories of a culture characterised by a massive imbalance of gender power – something which crosscuts disparities of race and of class – it then forgets this act of projection, finds its gender differentials in the cosmos, and then re-imports them into culture.

A neat trick conceptual conjuring trick. It’s time the conjuror was booed off the stage.


1) See SAID Orientalism for the first and CANNADINE Ornamentalism, in part a response to this, for the second. Cannadine’s thesis is that the British administration in India saw its culture and polity not primarily in terms of an exotic Other, but in the familiar terms of that world of hierarchy and order which were under threat at home.
2) Bhaskar began his career as a philosopher of science criticising positivist epistemology. He is now bowing down to the East and in his From East to West tells a tale of his supposed many re-incarnations. He is much regarded by a section of The Left. It is significant in relation to the point on the relation of Jungist character typology to the discourse of managerialism that Bhaskar is now a New Age, management consultant. See . I will shortly post a draft of a longer paper on him, intended for journal publication.


ADORNO ‘Theses’: Theodore Adorno, ‘Theses Against Occultism’, in his Minima Moralia (1951), trans E F N Jephcott, NLB, 1974
BALOGH Love: Roslyn Wallach Bologh, Love or Greatness: Max Weber and Masculine Thinking – A Feminist Inquiry, Unwin Hyman, 1990

BLACKSTONE Commentaries: Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England,in Documents 1, to OU course AA303, The Open University, 2002

BRIGGS Improvement: Asa Briggs, The Age of Improvement 1783 – 1867, Longman, 1988

CANNADINE Class: David Cannadine, Class in Britain, Yale University Press, 1998

CANNADINE Ornamentalism: David Cannadine, Ornamentalism, Allen Lane, 2001

CHARLES ‘Healing’: Prince Charles, ‘Healing the Wounds of the Modern World’, Telegraph Weekend, 22 April, 2006

ELLENBERGER Discovery: Henri F Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious, Basic Books, 1970

FREUD Psychical: Sigmund Freud, ‘Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction Between the Sexes’, trans. James Strachey, in The Essentials of Psycho-Analysis, Penguin, 1986

GROSSMAN ‘Jung’: Stanley Grossman,‘C G Jung and National Socialism’, in Paul Bishop (ed. ) Jung in Contexts, Routledge, 1998. 1st publ., Journal of European Studies, Vol 9, 1979
JUNG‘India’: C G Jung, ‘What India Can Teach Us’: in his Civilization in Transition 2nd edn., trans. R F C Hull, Routledge & Kegan Paul.
JUNG‘Mind’: C G Jung, ‘Mind and Earth’: in his Civilization in Transition 2nd edn., trans. R F C Hull, Routledge & Kegan Paul.
JUNG‘Role’: C G Jung, ‘The Role of the Unconscious’, in his Civilization in Transition 2nd edn., trans. R F C Hull, Routledge & Kegan Paul.
JUNG ‘Spiritual’: ‘The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man’, in his Civilization in Transition 2nd edn. (vol 10 of Collected Works), trans . R F C Hull, Routledge & Kegan Paul. Also in his Modern Man in Search of a Soul, trans. W S Dell & Cary F Baynes, New York, 1933
JUNG‘Woman’ C G Jung,‘Woman in Europe’, in his Civilization in Transition 2nd edn., trans. R F C Hull, Routledge & Kegan Paul.
JUNG Psych Uncs: Carl Jung, The Pschology of the Unconscious (5th edn 1943), The Collected Works of C G Jung, trans. R F C Hull, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1953.
LOVEJOY Great: Arthur O Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being, Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1960
MARX Grundrisse: Karl Marx, Grundrisse, trans. Martin Nicolaus, Penguin. 1973
MOSSE Nazi: George L Mosse, Nazi Culture, Schocken Books, New York, 1981
MURRAY & NEOCLEOUS ‘Marx’: David Murray & Mark Neocleous, ‘Marx Comes First Again, and Loses’, Radical Philosophy, No 134, November/December 2005
MURRAY ‘Barbarism’: David Murray, ‘C G Jung – Philosopher of Barbarism’, Ethical Record, July/August, 1991
NIETZSCHE Beyond: Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil trans. R J Hollingdale (1973), Penguin, 1981
NIETZSCHE’Greek’: Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘The Greek State’ trans. Carol Diethe, in Keith Ansell-Pearson (ed. ), On the Genealogy of Morality, Cambridge University Press, 1994. Intended as a chapter of The Birth of Tragedy. With other essays was given by Nietzsche to Cosima Wagner as ‘Five Prefaces to five unwritten books’, 1872
NOLL Cult: Richard Noll, The Jung Cult Fontana, 1996
POCOCK’Ritual’: J G A Pocock, ‘Ritual, Language, Power: An Essay on the Apparent Political Meanings of Ancient Chinese Philosophy’, in his Politics, Language and Time, Methuen & Co Ltd, 1972. 1st publ. in Political Science, Vol 16, No 1, March 1964
SAID Orientalism: Edward Said, Orientalism, Penguin, 2003
SAMUELS’Foreword’: Andrew Samuels, Foreword: to C G Jung, Essays on Contemporary Events (1946)Routledge, 1988. The essays were published before WW2, in this edn. they are taken from vols 10 and 16 of his Collected Works
SAWYER Delight: W W Sawyer, Mathematician’s Delight, Penguin, 1941
SINGER Androgyny: June Singer, Androgyny – Towards a New Theory of Sexuality, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977
TROTSKY History: Leon Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution Vol I, trans. Max Eastman, Sphere Books, 1967
WEHR Jung: Demaris S Wehr, Jung and Feminism: Liberating Archetypes, Routledge, 1988
YU-LAN History: Fung Yu-Lan, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, The Free Press, 1966
ZOHAR & MARSHALL Spiritual: Dana Zohar & Ian Marshall, Spiritual Capital – Wealth We Can Live By, Bloomsbury, 2005

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