The doctrine of 'sameness' surreptitiously privileges Western thought as universal.

Dear discussants,

I here challenge Peter Dunlap’s perception of “differences”. I also
object against the view that Jungian psychology is imbued with

I am reading a book by Rajiv Malhotra (“Being Different: An Indian
Challenge to Western Universalism”), very relevant to the present
discussion. He shows how the West’s history-centrism drives it into
claims of exclusiveness. It results in anxiety over differences which it
seeks to resolve through projects of digestion in order to obliterate
whatever seems challenging. Instead, says Malhotra, we must preserve
difference with mutual respect–not with mere “tolerance”. He alerts the
reader to the grave dangers of a difference-negating “sameness” that is
marketed worldwide by secular and religious streams in Western culture.
The doctrine of ‘sameness’, the idea that everything is the same, cannot
be used to guide our actions in this relative world. He says:

“The suggestion that difference must be seen as positive and be examined
openly by all sides is often met with resistance from Indians and
westerners alike. I call this resistance ‘difference anxiety’. The term
refers to the mental uneasiness caused by the perception of difference
combined with a desire to diminish, conceal or eradicate it. Difference
anxiety occurs in cultural and religious contexts frequently.
Such an anxiety seeks the relative comfort of homogeneous ideas,
beliefs and identity. It runs counter to the natural world, where
differences are inherent in the immense variety of animals, plants,
flowers, seasons, rocks, and indeed at every level of the cosmos. I will
argue that we must not try to erase differences but, rather, respect
them–even celebrate them. First, however, these differences must be
defined and acknowledged.
As a way of resolving difference, Western civilization is given to
isolating the elements of other civilizations and placing them in its
own conceptual categories–categories formulated by the ‘white’,
‘Christian’, and ‘progressive’ race. This categorization privileges the
Western gaze and enables it to declare itself as the universal norm for
others to emulate. It is a system for gaining control.” (Kindle Loc.

The doctrine of ‘sameness’ surreptitiously privileges Western thought as
universal. Malhotra exemplifies with Christian proselytizers, in India,
who deploy “inculturation” to give the appearance that they embrace
sameness whereas what they truly believe is that the dharma traditions
are illegitimate. It is a way of ‘tolerating’ differences ostensibly
while paving the way for the elimination of difference through
conversion. As a result, the universal potential of Indian thought is
downplayed and ignored.

Western universalism espouses toleration. ‘Tolerance’ is the catch-word
of today. Yet it is really a form of chauvinism which underlies much
Western thought in its encounters with other cultures. “Tolerance is a
patronizing posture, whereas respect implies that we consider the other
to be equally legitimate” (Kindle Loc. 321-322). Malhotra says:

“I wondered aloud if anyone in the audience would like to be told at the
upcoming luncheon that he or she was being ‘tolerated’ at the table. No
husband or wife would appreciate being told that his or her presence at
home was being ‘tolerated’. No self-respecting worker accepts mere
tolerance from colleagues. Tolerance, in short, is an outright insult;
it is simply not good enough. I pointed out that this notion of
tolerance had emerged from religions built on exclusivist claims
according to which other religions are false. Hence, tolerating them is
the best one can do without undermining one’s own claim to exclusivity.
Religious ‘tolerance’ was advocated in Europe after centuries of
religious wars between adherents of the different denominations of
Christianity. In many European countries, Churches functioned as
religious monopolies according to which the mere practice of the ‘wrong’
religion was a criminal offence. ‘Tolerance’ was a positive attempt to
quell the violence that had plagued Christianity for centuries in
Europe, but it did not provide a genuine basis for real unity and
cooperation, and so it often broke down.” (Kindle Loc. 324-332)

And so it is with everything. The refusal to see genuine differences
between the sexes means that a wet blanket is used to smother feminine
nature, which cannot be respected–only tolerated. This wet blanket is
the ideology of sameness. It means the inculturation of the feminine,
the smothering of the feminine archetype.

We see the same phenomenon in the Jungian movement. There is a call to
tolerate theoretical differences, yet books and articles of various
thinkers are neither scrutinized nor criticized properly. After all,
they are all the same, anyway.

So I am hesitant to associate this phenomenon with the alleged Jungian
fixation on individuation (in the sense of preoccupation with oneself).
Rather, I think Jungians are simply adopting the stance of the average
modern Westerner. Dunlap says that “the progressive impulse is too
intently focused on a dry rationalism, while lacking a coherent
relationship to emotion” (Dunlap 2012). Of course, the feeling function
is the evaluative function. It reasons in terms of good or bad, and thus
it gives rise to differences. Something or someone is devaluated whereas
another phenomenon, group, person, or theory is acclaimed. We cannot
have this if everything is supposed to be the same and everything and
everybody are to be tolerated.

So the doctrine of sameness must needs lead to instinctual and emotional
atrophy in the individual. Natural feeling is repressed by means of a
conscious algorithm of rationalistic ideology, which follows the tenets
of political correctness. The foremost tenets are sameness and
toleration, which is really a wet blanket that shall serve the purpose
of inculturation (which means that there is really a power motif behind
it, including claims of exclusiveness).

According to Dunlap, there is urgent need for an “emergent form of
collective consciousness”. He analyzes the present situation of
emotional atrophy as a “lack of belonging that comes from our excessive
individualism” (ibid.) But I fail to see what this has to do with
Jungian individuation. According to Jung, individualism is merely the
backside of collectivism, the flip side of the coin. Individuation is
the remedy of individualism. It means that the individual opens his eyes
to the fact that he is part and parcel of historical culture and begins
to cherish his historical and cultural antecedents, as well as the
natural surroundings. It means taking root in life rather than remaining
a puer aeternus. The feeling function is essential for this process
since it allows us to cultivate a feeling of kinship.

Dunlap charges Jung with an “unmoored individualism”. This is
unwarranted because Jung never hints at such views. Individualism holds
that unbridled self-interest is good for society. Therefore
individualists promote the exercise of their own goals and desires. The
individualist does not favour any philosophy that requires the sacrifice
of the self-interest of the individual for higher causes. Thus, the
interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or
the social group (cf. Wikipedia).

Whereas individualism centers upon the ego Jung’s psychology centers
upon the Self. The Self is a collective archetype, which means that the
disposition of the Self does not always coincide with the wishes of the
ego. Eventually, individuation means the sacrifice of the ego (a theme
which I keep returning to in this forum).  “Father, if you are willing,
take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jung says:

“As the individual is not just a single, separate being, but by his very
existence presupposes a collective relationship, it follows that the
process of individuation must lead to more intense and broader
collective relationships and not to isolation […] The opposition to the collective norm, however, is only apparent, since
closer examination shows that the individual standpoint is not
‘antagonistic’ to it, but only ‘differently oriented’ […] A real
conflict with the collective norm arises only when an individual way is
raised to a norm, which is the actual aim of extreme individualism.
Naturally this aim is pathological and inimical to life. It has,
accordingly, nothing to do with individuation, which, though it may
strike out on an individual bypath, precisely on that account needs the
norm for its ‘orientation’ (q.v.) to society and for the vitally
necessary relationship of the individual to society. Individuation,
therefore, leads to a natural esteem for the collective norm, but if the
orientation is exclusively collective the norm becomes increasingly
superfluous and morality goes to pieces. The more a man’s life is shaped
by the collective norm, the greater is his individual immorality.”
(Jung, 1977, pp.448-49)

Stepping out of the fog of sameness means that one can see that Indian
culture is different, too. This realization is essential for our
capacity to understand a different culture and to truly respect it. So
“public emotional intelligence” goes hand in hand with the
differentiation of the individual, which is individuation.

This, however, has not much to do with a political consciousness along
lines of today’s politics, which revolves predominantly around economics
and power. I do not understand how Jungian psychology can be a political
force. After all, it speaks to the individual rather than directly to
the collective. The central idea of Jungian psychology is that a healing
of the world is achieved through the healing of the individual, but not
the other way round. Totalitarian political movements have attempted to
put the individual in a new mould, but it didn’t work. It gave rise to
untold evils and the destruction of the individual. The destruction of
society follows suit. Without individuants, society becomes demoralized
and loses its vitality. Religion, working under long duration, can shape
the individual to a new consciousness, because it has its roots in the
unconscious. But Jung said it is a bad idea to make psychology into a
new form of religion.

It seems to me that the “political psyche” (in terms of Samuels) is a
contrarian notion, because it means that the individual shall be shaped
according to conscious and universal concepts, something which turns
Jungian psychology upside-down. It only serves to smother the
individual; the way in which today’s political culture of sameness and
toleration has stifled our emotional intelligence. There is no
one-size-fits-all political consciousness. Malhotra says that there can
be no single universalism.

Mats Winther


Dunlap, P.T. (2012). ‘Generational Attention: Remembering How to Be a
People’. Journal of Jungian Scholarly Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2012.

Jung, C.G. (1977). Psychological Types. Princeton/Bollingen.

Malhotra, R. (2011). Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western
Universalism. HarperCollins/The India Today Group.

‘Individualism’. Wikipedia article.

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