Carl Jung, Darwin of the Mind
By Thomas T. Lawson
Publisher, Routledge Press, https://www.routledge.com
I came to Jung in the course of a personal quest. It had become clear to me as a young man that religion, as it had been presented to me, was missing the point. I also had an inkling that human psychology had a bearing on whatever the crucial point might be. About the time I finished law school and got married, I encountered Joseph Campbell’s magisterial Masks of God and, over time, read all four volumes. The fact that the same myths occur everywhere in the world and throughout recorded time struck me as something that spoke directly to the relation of humankind to the divine.
Campbell was a Jungian and indeed had edited the Penquin Portable Jung. I read the material collected there and began to explore Jung further. Along the way, I came to Erich Neumann’s The Origins and History of Consciousness. Jung’s Forward to that book is such a gripping statement that I reproduce it in part here:
As I read through the manuscript of this book it became clear to me how great are the disadvantages of pioneer work: one stumbles through unknown regions, one is led astray by analogies, forever losing the Ariadne thread; one is overwhelmed by new impressions and new possibilities, and the worst disadvantage of all is that the pioneer only knows afterward what he should have known before. The second generation has the advantage of a clearer, if still incomplete, picture; certain landmarks that at least lie on the frontiers of the essential have grown familiar, and one now knows what must be known if one is to explore the newly discovered territory. Thus forewarned and forearmed, a representative of the second generation can spot the most distant connections; he can unravel problems and give a coherent account of the whole field of study, whose full extent the pioneer can only survey at the end of his life’s work.
Neumann has succeeded in constructing a unique history of the evolution of consciousness, and at the same time in representing the body of myths as the phenomenology of this same evolution. In this way, he arrives at conclusions and insights which are among the most important ever to be reached in this field.
Naturally to me, as a psychologist, the most valuable aspect of the work is the fundamental contribution it makes to a psychology of the unconscious. The author has placed the concepts of analytical psychology — which for many people are so bewildering — on a firm evolutionary basis and erected upon this a comprehensive structure in which the empirical forms of thought find their rightful place.
As I look back on these words, they contain the genesis of my book. I wanted to find out how consciousness evolved. The spiritual dimension that had been my original goal came into place in the course of that pursuit.
The book’s cover painting is one of my own.