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Category Archives: Passages

d) The correct condition of the ψυχή  as presupposition for genuine λόγος (διαλέγεσθαι).

To summarize, λόγος [speech], in its genuine function, is founded on dialectic. But, at the same time, we see that λέγειν [to speak], if it is living speech–living in the sense that it lets others see–necessarily presupposes a readiness to see on the part of the ψυχή [soul] of those others. Yet, on the other hand, in fact most men do not possess this readiness, and διαλέγεσθαι [discussing], as Plato says explicitly in the Phaedrus, is a πραγματεία [task] (cf. 273e5), a real labor and not something befalling a person by chance. To that extent, a special task and a special kind of speaking are necessary in the first place, in order to develop this readiness to see on the part of the very one who is investigating and also on the part of the other, the one to whom something is to be communicated. Therefore everything depends on this, that the ψυχή, the inner comportment, the Being of the existence of man, lies in the correct condition with regard to the world and to itself, i.e., in the correct συμμετρία, in an adequacy to the things themselves which are to be grasped in their uncoveredness. Socrates summarizes this once more at the end of the Phaedrus, now specifically not in a theoretical explication but in an invocation of the gods. ”O dear Pan and all ye gods here”-Socrates is outdoors with Phaedrus, beyond the city-“grant it to me to become beautiful” (καλός is nothing else than the opposite of αἰσχρός, ugliness, and signifies συμμετρία versus άμετρία, the proper adequacy versus inadequacy) “ grant it to me to become beautiful, to come into the correct condition in relation to what is in myself, what comes from the inside, and grant that whatever I possess extrinsically may be a friend to what is inner, and grant that l repute as rich the one who is wise, i.e., the one who is concerned with the disclosure of things, the disclosure of beings, and grant that to me the amount of gold, the quantity of treasure, I possess in this world will have for me as much value, and that I will claim for it only as much value, as a man of understanding should claim.”(279b8-c3).  That is, he beseeches here specifically for this correct condition with regard to the things themselves, and at the same time also for the correct bounds. Thus nothing in excess, for that could again turn into ignorance and barbarism…

Heidegger (Plato’s Sophist, p.240-241)


How can the Individual, how can our culture, integrate Christianity and antiquity, China and India, the primitive and the modern, the prophet and the atomic physicist, into one humanity? Yet that is just what the individual and our culture must do. Though wars rage and peoples exterminate one another in our atavistic world, the reality living within us tends, whether we know it or not, whether we wish to admit it or not, toward a universal humanism.

– Erich Neumann (Art and Time; essay)

Decline of the critical spirit, weakening of judgment, perversion of the function of science, all point to a serious cultural disorder. To think, however, that in locating these symptoms one is attacking the evil at its roots, is to make a grave mistake. For already we hear the swelling chorus of objections from the self-styled bearers of a new culture: “But we do not want a tried and tested knowledge to rule us and to decide over our actions; our aim is not to think and to know but to live and to do.”

Here we have the pivotal point of the present crisis of civilization: the conflict between knowing and being, between intelligence and existence. There is nothing novel about it. The essential insufficiency of our understanding was already realised in the earliest days of philosophy. The reality in and through which we live is in its essence unknowable, inaccessible to the processes of the mind, absolutely disparate from thought. In the first half of the nineteenth century this old truth, already understood by a Nicolaus Cusanus, is taken up again by Kierkegaard, whose philosophy centres upon the antithesis of existing and thinking. It served him to found his faith all the more firmly. It was not until much later that other thinkers forced this thought on to tracks away from God and let it derail in nihilism and despair, or in worship of earthly life. Nietzsche, deeply convinced of man’s tragic exile from truth and interpreting the will to life as will to power, repudiated the intellectual principle with all the poetical vigour of his genius. Pragmatism deprived the concept truth of its claim to absolute validity by placing it in the flow of time. To the pragmatists truth is what has essential validity for those professing it. Something is true when and in so far as it is valid for a particular time. A crude mind could easily think: something is valid, therefore it is true. A truth-concept reduced to only relative value was bound to bring a kind of ideological egalitarianism, an abolition of all differences of rank and value of ideas, in its wake. Sociological thinkers like Max Weber, Max Scheler, Karl Mannheim and Oswald Spengler have of late introduced the term of the Seinsverbundenheit des Denkens, which may be very imperfectly rendered with “the environment or life-conditioned nature of thought.” The concept itself makes them next-door neighbours to historical materialism, which is professedly anti-intellectual. Thus the tendencies of a whole age which, to avoid the vagueness of “anti-intellectual,” we venture to call anti-noetic, merged into a mighty stream which shortly was to threaten what were long thought to be insurmountable barriers of intellectual culture. It was Georges Sorel who, in his Réflexions sur la Violence, formulated the practical political consequences of all this, thereby becoming the spiritual father of all modern dictatorships.

But it is not only the dictators and their followers who desire the subjugation of the will to knowledge to the vital impulse. We have here the most fundamental element of the cultural crisis as a whole. This revulsion of the spirit is the essential process dominating the situation in which we find ourselves to-day.

Was it philosophical thought which led the way and society which followed? Or do we have to reverse the order and admit that it is a case of thought dancing to the tune of life? The doctrine itself which subjugates knowledge to life seems to impose the latter view.

Have earlier generations ever renounced the intellectual principle in this way? It seems impossible to find historical parallels. Systematic philosophical and practical anti-intellectualism such as we are witnessing, appears to be something truly novel in the history of human culture. To be sure, the past has often known reactions of thought whereby a too exclusive primacy of the understanding was succeeded by a revindication of the will. This is what happened, for instance, when the thought of Duns Scotus took its place beside that of Thomas Aquinas. These spiritual reactions, however, were not concerned with practical life or the worldly order but with the Faith, the striving for the ultimate meaning of life. And this striving itself always remained an “apprehending,” however far reason was left behind. The modern mind too often confuses intellectualism with rationalism. Even those forms of approach which, transgressing the purely intellectual, were intended to attain through insight and contemplation what was inaccessible to the understanding, always remained directed towards knowledge of truth. The Greek or the Indian word for it, gnosis or jnâna, makes it clear enough that even the purest mysticism remains a “knowing.” It is always the spirit which moves in the world of the intelligible. To have truth was always the ideal. There are no instances known to me of cultures having forsaken Truth or renounced the understanding in its widest sense.

When earlier currents of thought repudiated allegiance to Reason it was always in favour of the super-rational. What parades as the culture of today does not only disavow Reason but also the knowable itself, and this in favour of the sub-rational, the passions and the instincts. It votes for the will, not in the sense of Duns Scotus, however, but for the will to worldly power, for “existence,” for “blood and soil,” instead of “understanding” and “spirit.”

-Johan Huizinga (In the Shadow of Tomorrow, p.99-104)

…In general usage the word culture is not apt to create misunderstanding. One knows more or less what is meant by it. To give an accurate description of its meaning, however, is a different thing altogether. What is culture, what does it consist of? An exhaustive definition is practically impossible. All we can do is to enumerate a few essential conditions and requirements without which there can be no such thing as culture.

Culture requires in the first place a certain balance of material and spiritual values. This permits the emergence of a social condition which is appreciated by those living in it as affording more and higher values than the mere gratification of want and the desire for power. These values lie in the domain of the spiritual, the intellectual, the moral, and the aesthetic. These several domains themselves must again be in balance and harmony to render the concept of culture applicable. By stressing equilibrium and not absolute level one is enabled to include early or low or crude forms of society in a cultural evaluation, and to avoid the danger of over-estimating the highly refined civilizations and of one-sided appreciation of one of the several factors of culture, be it religion, art, law, political organisation or any other. This equilibrium may be viewed as a harmonious and energetic functioning of the several cultural activities within the whole. The result of such co-ordination of the cultural activities manifests itself in order, structural strength, and rhythm of the particular society. It is clear that the historical evaluation of different cultures, no more than the appreciation of present environment, can free itself from the preconceived standards of the judging subject. In this connection it must be noted that the general qualification of a culture as a “high” or “low” culture appears ultimately to be determined by its spiritual and ethical rather than its intellectual and aesthetic value content. A culture which does not boast technical achievements or great sculptural art may still be a high culture, but not if it lacks charity.

The second fundamental feature of culture is that all culture has an element of striving. It is directed towards an aim and this aim is always an ideal, not the ideal of an individual, but an ideal for society. The nature of this ideal varies greatly. It may be purely spiritual: celestial bliss, nearness to God, liberation from earthly ties; or: knowledge, rational or mystical, knowledge of nature, knowledge of self and the mind, knowledge of the divine. It may be a social ideal: honour, respect, power, greatness, but always honour, respect, power and greatness for the community. Again, it may be economic or hygienic: prosperity or health. For the bearers of culture the ideal always means betterment or weal, weal here or elsewhere, now or later.

Whether the aim is in heaven or on earth, wisdom or wealth, the essential condition of its pursuit and attainment is always security and order. Culture could not be a striving if it did not first of all fulfil the imperative task of maintaining security and order. From the requirement of order springs all that is authority, from that of security all that is law. At the bottom of scores of different systems of law and government there are always the social groupings whose striving for betterment gives rise to culture.

More concrete and more positive than the first mentioned fundamentals of culture, balance and striving, is the third, chronologically its first and most typical feature. Culture means control over nature. Culture exists the moment man discovers that the hand armed with the flint is capable of things which without it would have been beyond his reach. He has bent a part of nature to his will. He controls nature, his enemy and his benefactor. He has acquired instruments, means; he has become homo faber. He uses these means to gratify a want, to construct an implement, to protect himself and his kin, to destroy animal or foe. Henceforward he changes the course of nature, for the results of his handling the tool would not have occurred without it.

If this control over nature were the only prerequisite of culture there would be little reason to deny ants, bees, birds or beavers the claim to its possession. They all turn parts of nature to their use by altering them. Whether or not these activities include a striving for betterment is a question for animal psychology to answer. But even if they did, the attribution of culture to the animal world would still meet with the spontaneous reaction that this is abusing the term. The spirit cannot be eliminated quite as easily as some would think.

In fact, to say that culture is control over nature in the sense of building, shooting and roasting is to tell only half the story. The rich word “nature” includes human nature as well and that also must be controlled. Already in the earliest and simplest phases of society man becomes conscious that he owes something. The animal’s care and defence of his young are not sufficient to warrant the conclusion that there too this consciousness exists. It is only in the human consciousness that the function of caring and providing takes on the aspect of Duty. The recognition of this duty is only in a relatively small degree attributable to natural circumstances such as motherhood and protection of the family unit. At an early stage of social organisation the obligation expands into conventions, rules of conduct and cults, in the form of taboos. In wide circles the popularisation of the word taboo has led to an undervaluation of the ethical element of the so-called primitive cultures, not to say anything of that body of sociological thought which with truly modern simplicity disposes of everything called morality, law, or piety, as just so many taboos.

The consciousness of owing something contains an ethical element as soon as there is no absolute material necessity to honour what is felt as an obligation to a fellow-man, an institution or a spiritual power. Ethnologists like Malinowski have shown that the view that in primitive civilizations obedience to the social code is mechanically determined and inescapable, is untenable. Whenever in a community the rules of social conduct are generally observed, therefore, it is through the operation of a genuine ethical impulse. The requirement of control over nature in the form of domination of human nature itself is then fulfilled.

The more the specific feelings of being under obligation range themselves under a supreme principle of human dependence the clearer and the more fertile will be the realisation of the concept, indispensable to all true culture, of service; from the service of God down to the simple social relationship as between employer and employee. The uprooting and discrediting of the service-concept has been the most destructive function of the shallow rationalism of the eighteenth century.

Were we now to sum up what we have set out above as the essential features and general requirements of culture, the contents of this concept might perhaps be formulated in the following statement, which cannot lay any claim to the quality of exact definition, however. Culture, as a condition of society, is present when the control over nature in the material, the moral, and spiritual field maintains a state which is higher and better than would follow from the given natural conditions, and whose characteristics are a harmonious balance of material and spiritual values and a more or less homogeneous ideal in whose pursuit the community’s various activities converge…

– Johan Huizinga (In the Shadow of Tomorrow, p.40-46)

If we offend against “history” by removing documents and representations from their cultural context, we hope to compensate by correlating our archetypal investigation with a “psychohistory,” that is to say, with the stages in the development of the human psyche. Taking the development of consciousness as the decisive phenomena of human history, we arrive at an arrangement of the phenomena that does not, to be sure, coincide with the usual sequence of historical events, but makes possible the psychological orientation we require.

The old interpretation of history as a straight line, leading from prehistory through antiquity and the Middle Ages to modern times, is no longer accepted. It has given way to a historical consciousness that looks upon the various coexistent and successive cultures as individualities and not as links in a continuous chain. This view makes it possible to do justice to the individual character of each culture, but it is also a symptom of the decline of the ordering principle that had hitherto enabled European, Christian mankind to regard itself as the culmination and climax of human development. Once the idea of a universal mankind, embracing all the multiplicity of cultures, religions, and historical epochs, came within the scope of men’s minds, the naive Western view of history for which the Near East was quite secondary, while Asia, America, and Africa merited scarcely any attention, became untenable.

With the discovery of the collective unconscious as the common psychic foundation of mankind and with the insight that the relation of consciousness to the unconscious determines the character of a cultural phase or of a culture, modern man has gained a new point of orientation. The development of consciousness, from almost total containment in the unconscious in primitive man to the Western form of consciousness, has been glimpsed as the central factor in human history as a whole. For this orientation, the various cultures are merely phases in this basic trend of psychic life: the development of consciousness, which, without being the conscious goal of the individual cultures or of human culture as a whole, can be shown to be operative in every culture and age.

The tendency toward the light, which C. G. Jung once called human heliotropism, has in the long run proved stronger than all the forces of darkness that have striven to extinguish consciousness. In the broad view, epochs seemingly characterized by a regression of consciousness may almost always be recognized as transitional stages necessary to further development.

For the psychological study of human history, the primordial era refers then to the time when the unconscious was predominant and consciousness was weak. The modern era signifies a time of developed consciousness and of a productive bond between consciousness and unconscious. In other words, the normative development of the individual from containment in the unconscious to the development of consciousness presents an analogy to the collective development of mankind. In the system of coordinates representing psychohistorical development, later periods may therefore, as we said, represent an early state of consciousness and early epochs a mature level. Thus, for example, the relatively late monuments of the monolithic culture of England and France are psychologically much “earlier” than the Egyptian monuments that preceded them by thousands of years. And in an epoch of modern history, regressive collective tendencies may appear, which threaten to annul the arduously acquired development of the individual and the individual consciousness, and to bring back an earlier stage of human history.

Erich Neumann (The Great Mother, p. 89-91)

When living by the Tao,
awareness of self is not required,
for in this way of life, the self exists,
and is also non-existent,
being conceived of, not as an existentiality,
nor as non-existent.

The sage does not contrive to find his self,
for he knows that all which may be found of it,
is that which it manifests to sense and thought,
which side by side with self itself, is nought.

It is by sheathing intellect’s bright light
that the sage remains at one with his own self,
ceasing to be aware of it, by placing it behind.
Detached, he is unified with his external world,
by being selfless he is fulfilled;
thus his selfhood is assured.

Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching: An Introduction by Stan Rosenthal)

The great, to some extent ultimate, task posed here is that of understanding fear in all its forms as an instrument of the Self. Fear of the unknown and of all that is ego-alien turns out to be fear of the unknown aspects of “one-Self” and of “one-Self” as the unknown. In this sense the transformation process of becoming one-Self again and again embraces new unknowns, indeed, ever-new worlds of fear-inspiring unknowns.

In development through the archetypal stages, the individual must overcome fear with each transition from one phase to another, which, of course, always means the new phase of an existence unknown until that time. In this context we cannot take up the various ways in which men and women overcome fear, nor can we address the striking and as yet not well understood fact that the manner in which the ego overcomes fear is symbolically “genital,” i.e., is coordinated with the specific form of the genitals. Thus the male form of overcoming fear is active, intrusive, and pugnaciously heroic just as the typical form of fear appears as “castration” fear. Conversely, women’s fear is the fear of rape, and her way of overcoming fear is not activately heroic but passively heroic, accepting and incorporating it in her surrender to fear.

But always and independently of any of its forms, overcoming fear represents a specific form of integration in which something alien to the ego, some piece of Not-I, is recognized and realized as one’s own. Thus the man experiences the Terrible Feminine in its character of anima and transformation as belonging to his own psyche, just as he experiences the maternal and elementary character as “his own,” and only after assimilating all these aspects of the feminine will a man attain to his own authenticity as a human Self that is male and female simultaneously. Only when the “pure masculinity” of the patriarchy has been overcome through this process of transformation does a man overcome the fear in which his “pure masculinity” screened itself from the otherness that appeared symbolically as feminine. The same holds true for woman and her fear of the Masculine, which she has only concealed by her identification with the animus world demanded by the patriarchy.

In this experience of transformation the human individual becomes conscious of the relentless power of the Self, which recasts all phases of development as well as all ego-conquests of the outer and inner worlds into aspects of Self-realization that manifest from the very beginning as automorphism, as a tendency at work in the psyche. When the personal Self that manifests as a fear-inducing world assaulting the ego from within and from without is integrated, not only the one who fears and the one who overcomes fear but that which arouses fear can be seen as belonging together. Just as the good and evil gods in Bardo Thodol are one and turn out to be only projections of an underlying third thing, here we are led to experience the unity of Self and world. Destiny in its unity of inside and outside that arouses fear from without and from within turns out to belong to humankind and to be the living experience of the personal Self. World events appearing from outside as much as inner, fear-inducing phenomena of the psyche prove to be disguises of the Self. Inner and outer realities that at first appear strange and hence frightening are later experienced and “unmasked” as belonging to one’s very own authentic being, and thereby lose their foreign as well as their fearsome character. In this transformation the ego experiences that it belongs fundamentally to the Self, and that, in the form of the ego-Self axis, this “belongingness” has determined the entire development of personality on a new level. When the ego grasps the degree to which the Self directs fear and uses it as a “tool for transformation,” it also experiences itself embraced by the Self’s demand for transformation. In this way, however, the ego unmasks its own annihilation through fear and recognizes it as a process of negation brought about by something unfamiliar that proves itself to be one’s most essential nature, and one gains a paradoxical security in the Self that creatively forces the ego into continual transformation. As the ego becomes the transparent exponent of the Self, this agent of transformation, the Self, becomes one’s most treasured essence that remains fearlessly creative throughout all transformations. Only in this way does fearlessness arise for the ego that no longer clings to itself but rather in transformation surrenders and devotes itself to the Self as to its “own.” Thus the ego-Self axis becomes humankind’s guarantee of a creative existence, i.e., of an existence of transformation. Despite this ego-Self unity, however, the opposition persists in which the ego, as a smaller part, is subjected to a Self that is existentially superior to and more than a match for the ego. This means that the ego must necessarily continue to experience fear. Fear disappears only when the ego has come to that stage of the conquest of fear in which the human being’s sense of security lies in existing not only as an ego but, in a mysterious and numinous way, also as a Self that guides the personality through all ego-phases and turns all of the ego’s fear-constellations into stages of transformation in which existence reveals itself as an unending metamorphosis of aspects of the creative.

– Neumann (The Fear of the Feminine, p.278-281)

In contrast to the collective, patriarchal marriage that, ultimately, is contracted by clans and families, the problem of individual relationship–that is, of encounter–becomes evident where relationship becomes a question of individual love rather than of being propelled by external collective forces such as groups or of inner collective energies such as drives. The individual relationship that takes its place as love-marriage beside the traditional patriarchal marriage can, however, still exist within the collective norm of patriarchal marriage.

This situation has changed only in modern times when the entire relationship between the Masculine and Feminine, men and women, has become problematic. This change finds expression not only in the relationship between husband and wife but also within the psyche itself, since the man’s relationship to his own unconscious feminine side, the anima, and the woman’s to her unconscious masculine, the animus, begin to enter consciousness.

Here the psychology of the patriarchate ends, and the psychology of encounter, of surrender and devotion to the Self, of individuation, and the discovery of the feminine Self begins. These are the two last and highest phases of the psychological development of the feminine. To describe them exceed the limits of our sketch for the problems of this phase embrace nearly all the problems of the modern woman insofar as she is really “modern,” ie., not just living in our times by accident. Both phases presuppose an inner victory over the symbiosis of the patriarchate. It is equally possible in the process for woman’s development to be played out within a marriage that began patriarchally and symbiotically or for the process to lead to the break up of marriage and into a new relationship. But every transition from one phase to the next can come to pass only through psychic conflict, and the entire personality must be engaged.

A crisis of this sort, even if it is to take place within a marriage, must involve both partners because, for woman, a change in relationship between man and woman also always presupposes a corresponding transformation of her male partner. An extremely common cause of marital conflicts and divorces lies in the fact that the development toward a new phase of relationship, vitally necessary for one partner, is tragically doomed to failure owing to the other partner’s lack of understanding or inability to participate in the development.

In contrast to the collective polarization of patriarchal symbiosis, a genuine “encounter” brings about a relationship in which men and women are related to each other as conscious and unconscious structures, ie., as whole persons. In The Psychology of the Transference Jung discussed this form of relationship as an archetypal quaternio, ie., as a fourfold relationship in which consciousness and the unconscious of both partners are in contact. This comprehends the whole nature of each person, hence in the case of the man not only his patriarchal masculine consciousness but equally his feminine anima side. But now this is not unconsciously projected so that the man appears both to himself and to his female counterpart as purely masculine; rather, man and woman must consciously relate equally to the man’s feminine and masculine sides. In human terms this produces a plenitude of complications and problems, since the man’s feminine anima side is emotional and he is initially unaware of it, so that only circuitously and through suffering does he come to experience essential parts of his own nature, facets that he first experienced in his partner as something foreign and Feminine. However, these problems demand the greatest efforts not only from the man himself but equally from the woman, who, for her part must witness the collapse of her image of ideal masculinity as she becomes conscious of the man’s feminine side.

With similar complications the same holds true for the woman’s animus-psychology and her growing awareness of it. This process, too, places the greatest demands on both partners’ mutual understanding and tolerance. Consequently in this phase of encounter the complicated multiplicity of psychic relationships between man and woman is in fact incalculable.

Filling the demands of this situation, however, not only guarantees a vital relationship and a tension of polar opposites but at the same time lets the unique and individual essence of both partners enter into the relationship. Since a person’s unconscious and his or her wholeness both are caught up in the process of transformation of the personality, the conventionally collective semblance of personality must be surrendered and the distinctive and singular uniqueness of the human being start to work its effects undisturbed by the persona. Only then, however, do two persons attain to a true encounter. Where the deepest levels of the personality are included in the living Auseinandersetzung [Engagement/Conflict], the merely individual qualities of the one’s personality form the starting point for experiencing the transpersonal in oneself and in one’s counterpart. This form of encounter is the highest possible form of a real relationship between man and woman.

– Erich Neumann (The Fear of the Feminine, Stages of Woman’s Development, p.50-53)

The average ego, the average individual, remains fixed in the
group, although in the course of development he is compelled
to give up the original security of the unconscious, to evolve a
conscious system, and to take upon himself all the complications
and sufferings which such development entails. For the primary
security of the unconscious he exchanges the secondary security
of the group. He becomes a group member, and the average
man spends at least half his life–the essential part of his devel-
opment–adapting to the group and allowing himself to be
molded by collective trends.

The role played by the collective in the human culture is decisive.
Society, with its conscious postulates, sets up an authority,
a spiritual tradition which, spoken or unspoken, forms the background
of education. The individual is molded by the collective
through its ethos, its customs, laws, morality, its ritual and religion,
its institutions and collective undertakings. When one
considers the original submergence of the individual in the collective,
one sees why all collective orientations are so binding
and are accepted without question.
Besides this tendency of the collective to form average members
and to educate the ego up to the cultural norm represented
by the elders, there is another tendency which is in the direction
of the Great Individual.

For the group member, the Great Individual is primarily the
carrier of projections. The unconscious psychic wholeness of
the collective is experienced in the person of the Great Individual,
who is at once the group self and the unconscious self of
each member. What is present in every part of the group as the
unconscious creative totality of the psyche, namely the self, becomes
visible in the Great Individual or, at a higher level, is
actualized in his life. The collective parts are still childishly dependent,
with no ego center, no responsibility or will of their
own to mark them off from the collective, so that the Great Individual
is regarded as the directive force, as the very center of
life, and is institutionally honored as such.

It is therefore completely inadmissible to reduce him to, or
derive him from, the personal father figure. We find that, just
as in the early history of man the Great Individual becomes the
carrier for the projection of archetypal images such as the self,
the mana figure, the hero, and the father archetype, so also in
the course of ontogenetic development the figure representing
authority, who in our civilization is the father, frequently becomes
the carrier for these projections. But it is by no means
only the father archetype that is projected upon him; very often
it is quite another image, for instance that of the magician, the
wise old man, the hero or, conversely, of the devil, death, and
so on.

The Great Individual who breaks away from the anonymity
of the primordial collective is, on the heavenly plane, the god-
figure, while on the earthly plane he is the medicine man, chief,
and god-king. Sociological and religious developments are here
closely bound together; they correspond to psychic changes, and
the psychic differentiation by which the ego detaches itself from
the undifferentiated unconscious is expressed in sociological
changes as well as in a theological differentiation of man’s view
of the world,

-Erich Neumann (OaHoC, p.426-8)

We come now to an important criterion. Many genuinely
“great” men are distinguished from these lower stages by the
fact that their conscious mind actively participates in the process
and adopts a responsible attitude toward it. What characterizes
the hypnotist who is hypnotized by the unconscious is the banality
of his mind, its lack of problems. For, if completely swamped
by the invading content, consciousness becomes incapable of
taking up any counterposition whatsoever, but is carried away
and possessed by it to the point of identification.

The Great Individual, on the other hand, who really is a great
man in the sense of being a great personality, is characterized
not only by the fact that the unconscious content has him in its
grip, but by the fact that his conscious mind also has an active
grip on the content. It is immaterial whether his assimilation of
the content takes the form of creation, or of interpretation, or of
action; for common to all these is the responsible participation
of the ego in coming to terms with the invading content, and not
only its participation, but its ability to take up an attitude.
Only then does the Great Individual become a creative human
being. The action no longer rests with the invading transpersonal
alone, but with the centroversion operating through
ego consciousness; in other words, there is now a creative total
reaction in which the specifically human qualities of ego formation
and conscious elaboration are preserved.

This category of Great Individuals serves as a model for the
development of individuality in humankind generally. The individual
fate of the hero–and the creative Great Individual is
indeed a hero–may be the exception, but he is also the exemplar
of a process which subsequently affects all individuals in varying

– Erich Neumann ( OaHoC, p. 425-6)