This archive has been prepared by Elizabeth Brodersen
IAJS Discussion Seminar with George Hogenson – Introduction by Warren Colman
NB: To access and download two papers by George Hogenson which will form the basis for the discussion, please go to the following links:
- ‘What are symbols symbols of’: http://bit.ly/gxKn6T
- ‘The self, the symbolic and synchronicity’: http://bit.ly/gj13OQ
It’s a great pleasure for me to introduce George Hogenson who will be leading a seminar for the IAJS list on the theme of ‘emergence’. He has been well known in the Jungian world long before he became an analyst as the author of Jung’s Struggle with Freud (1983), an impressive and scholarly work that analysed Jung’s break from Freud in terms of the creation of a different mythological understanding of time, death and authority. At that time, George was a philosophy PhD and a teacher of political philosophy, specialising in the field of international peace and security.
From this strong academic background, George became interested in pursuing the practice of psychotherapy as well as its theory and qualified as a Jungian analyst in Chicago in 1998. In 2001, George gave a plenary presentation at the IAAP Congress in Cambridge, England, debating with Anthony Stevens on the nature and origins of archetypes. This was my first introduction both to George and to the dynamic systems theory he proposed as a way of reconceptualising archetypal theory and challenging Stevens’ use of evolutionary psychology as a way of bolstering the classical ‘blueprint’ model of archetypes as a priori structures. George’s presentation of a short video from the field of robotics, illustrating the principles of self-organisation was a revelation to me: I well remember the feeling that I was seeing a vision of the future, an entirely new way of thinking that had the potential to revision and revitalise analytical psychology.
In the decade since then, George has amply fulfilled that initial promise with a series of ground-breaking, seminal papers, most of which have been published in the Journal of Analytical Psychology. The field that has come to be known as ‘emergence theory’ has grown and developed and is represented in the work of many other Jungian writers, such as Joe Cambray, Jean Knox, John Merchant, Patricia Skar, Hester Solomon, Margaret Wilkinson, Beverley Zabriskie – and myself. These new ideas are not easily grasped and challenge some of the shibboleths of Jungian thought, notably the idea of innate a priori eternal structures that are the universal basis of psychic life. Like all new ideas, some people find them a threat: the JAP has provided a forum for robust debates with defenders of evolutionary psychology such as Alan Maloney (2003) and more recently, Erik Goodwyn (2010).
These critics seem to feel that the idea that archetypes are emergent properties of developmental processes challenges the existence of archetypes per se whereas what is primarily at issue is not the existence of archetypes but how they come into being and how the idea of archetypes can be aligned with advances in scientific thinking in the half a century since Jung’s original work. Furthermore, while the mainly British writers such as Knox are primarily interested in the influence of early emotional development on adult psychopathology, writers such as Hogenson and Cambray have a much broader and more traditionally ‘Jungian’ canvass, especially involving a reconceptualising of synchronicity, one of Jung’s most radical and inspiring ideas.