Man & His Symbols: Carl G. Jung

Wed, Mar 2, 2011

Essentials, Reviews

Rating: A+ Essential Reading

Ever tried reading any of Jung’s original works?  It’s like wading through mud, chest deep.  Yet, Jung’s theories are essential to the study of meaning and the subconscious.  So what do you do?  Read Man and His Symbols.

This one book stands apart from Jung’s other works.  Before Jung theories were out of the reach of the general public, but then he had a dream that he “was standing in a pubic place addressing a multitude of people .. in rapt attention .. who understood him.”  When he was then approached by a publisher for just such a book he agreed to take on the project with the help of a few of his closest followers.  Man and Hist Symbols is Jung’s final work written close to the end of his life, and so it is a summary and reflection on his life’s work.

Only the first chapter is written by Jung himself, and the remaining chapters, are all written by individuals handpicked and trained by Jung himself.  Even so, Jung has supervised and edited all of these remaining chapters.  The result is a delightfully readable volume that delivers Jung’s essential theories in a nutshell.

The book is divided into five chapters and a conclusion.  In the first chapter, Jung describes the foundation to all of his theories: namely the unconscious (or subconscious) and the theory of Archetypes.  The chapter is filled with gems that illustrate the use of symbols, the way ideas are formed, the significance of dreams and and symbols, and other tid bits that complete the picture.  For example, half way down the chapter, Jung touches on the basis behind Physical Mediation in The Economy of Meaning, when he says, “Man positively needs general ideas and convictions that will give meaning to his life and enable him to find a place for himself in the universe.” (p.76)

The remaining four chapters apply this basic theory and show how archetypes and symbols occur in myths and the visual arts, with one chapter illustrating how symbols are used in individual analysis.  One chapter, The Process of Individuation, is foundational to The Economy of Meaning, for individuation, which I have referred to as consciousness building, forms the second and perhaps the most important outcome of the exchange and creation of meaning.

This book is essential to the study of meaning, the mind, symbols, and basically everything this website covers.  And as a bonus, it is highly readable.  It ranks first on my essential reading list.

Man and His Symbols – Buy it at Amazon

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