Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

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Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby BadgerJelly on March 28th, 2013, 4:37 am 

I am VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY interested to hear about what people who study antropology and neurology think about Jung and what credence they give to his work and why?

This thread is really aimed at two people here (forest and Neuro)
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby Forest_Dump on March 28th, 2013, 7:54 am 

Sorry, I wish I could help but the psychological approach is one that I have probably paid the least attention to. From what little I know, things like the arch-types are pretty much defined from and confined to specific cultural settings. There have been people who have paid more attention to psychological approaches like Margaret Mead and Ruth Landes but that was some time ago.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby neuro on March 28th, 2013, 1:16 pm 

I'm no expert on Jung, but since you expressly call me in, I'll try and say something sensible.

I believe Jung spotted quite hot aspects of our psyche.
Although he might have been carried too far by his enthusiasm for archetypes, I would feel justified to claim that there certainly are certain graphical patterns, aspects and elements of nature and of animals that tend to elicit common emotional responses in all people (although possibly to a quite variable extent); and the same can be said for the relational attitudes towards specific natural environments and events, social situations, personal and collective needs and desires.

Actually - please Forrest correct me if I'm wrong - many myths can be found which are quite similar in most cultures and in many cases they were shown to have arisen independently. They are likely to fulfil some need for emotional stability or reassurance in the face of fearful or puzzling environments, events, situations, social and affective relations.

My opinion trivially is that since our brain has quite a number of "precabled" pattern detection circuitries, which "recognize" both elements and relations in the surrounding environment and in many cases are linked to emotional arousal and specific affective responses (just think of the precabled ability to detect the pattern of a human face in any image one may show a newborn baby), it would be strange that there weren't any elements, patterns, situations, events that are bound to generate a quite common cognitive and emotional response in humans.

The interesting point might be that the more such circuitries are innate (i.e. the less they have been modified and reprogrammed by learning), the less their operation tends to be perceived at a conscious level. That's why the idea of a collective unconscious is "neurologically" very stimulating.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby BadgerJelly on February 11th, 2018, 1:29 am 

And enter Prof. Jordan Peterson ...

Jordan Peterson: The Facinating Carl Jung
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZKV-Bii5Mg
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby wolfhnd on February 11th, 2018, 2:44 am 

I find Peterson fascinating but when he talks about Jung it feels unfinished. I think he has something important to say in regards to people like Sam Harris but it needs more polishing.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby BadgerJelly on February 11th, 2018, 4:40 am 

It's polished. I've watched a few of his lectures now. Being someone who really found something special in Jung years ago Peterson is the first person I've seen able to explicate his ideas.

Jung's ideas are probably difficult for some people to grasp. It depends on your personality to a degree (as he mentions.) People have said to me they found Jung hard, but he speaks my language throughout most of his work (even though the Latin annoys me.)
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby wolfhnd on February 11th, 2018, 5:58 am 

I'm the victim of Catholic education so most of what Peterson has to say I have considered at length for 50 years. In particular I have some exposure to liberation theology so like Peterson I have confronted socialism at a "spiritual" level.

When I say part of Peterson's message is not polished I don't mean it is inarticulate. Peterson's verbal IQ is probably really high. A lot of what he has to say however is also just "common sense" that most people have not heard clearly articulated. The intellectuals he needs to win over are not very impressed by common sense.

Like all academics Peterson has spent his life focus on a very narrow topic. That does not mean he is narrow minded because his clinical practice demonstrates that like most brilliant people he can tackle a variety of interests. He can certainly be admired on a personal level for unlike many academics he hasn't just pursued his own interests but has made himself useful to his family and others in very practical ways. That makes him a better candidate for role model and validates his "common sense". None the less he seems to have a central focus on defeating the bad ideas of the 20th century exemplified by post Modernism and neo Marxism.

Part of that focus seems to come from observations he made as a young man working for the socialist party in Canada. Part of it comes from how unusually traumatised he seems to have been by the threat of nuclear annihilation. He also talks about the fear he had as a young man that he could become an alcoholic perhaps to self medicate against depression. Those factors and undoubtedly others explain his focus.

When I say that his message isn't polished I'm not saying it isn't a well developed and internally consistent philosophy. It represents a heroic intellectual effort. In many ways it is simply too ambitious. For example when he was talking to Sam Harris he didn't seem to realize that before he could have the conversation he wanted to have he needed to establish the reality of freewill. Philosophers have spent their whole lives trying to sell freewill to people like Harris with little to show for it but Peterson just skips past it to focus on what he thinks is important.

If he wants his message to be taken seriously he has to articulate precisely why the problems that other intellectuals take seriously can be ignored. I think it can be done but Dennett and Peterson have not done so to my satisfaction.

The argument against Peterson I run in to most often is that he just the latest guy with some good ideas who has become a self help guru. I don't agree with that assessment because I think it is arrogant to dismiss Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, and others so easily. The materialists to a large extent have sweep human spirituality under the rug and dismissed it as superstitions. The disastrous results as Peterson points out can be seen in the body counts of the Nazis and Communists.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby Braininvat on February 11th, 2018, 12:53 pm 

I've perused his Maps of Meaning, which his recent book, 12 Rules for Life, and his videos, package in a more accessible form. He seems to be very concerned about ideology adversely affecting open inquiry and debate, and makes some good points about the dangers of political correctness (an oxymoron, if ever there was one) becoming authoritarian. He has a healthy distrust for both the Left and Right. I will look at his Jung writings, which I am guessing may resonate with writers like Joseph Campbell and Robert Bly, as regards facing internal conflicts, reconciling chaos and order in a way that energizes the psyche and reduces anxiety about unseen forces. The fear of nuclear annihilation is a part of that feared unseen force, for his and my generation. It is sort of representing the ultimate dark side, the maximum destructive potential of ideology gone mad.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby wolfhnd on February 11th, 2018, 3:47 pm 

If he collaborated with Steven Pinker it would be a nice balance. In some ways I think he over does the horrors of 20th century. On the other hand Pinker seems to understate the dangers of authoritarian collectivism, especially in the future.

The most important thing for me is Peterson seems to be a good person. Especially his unique ability to explain how weakness should not be equated with virtue. Joe Rogan took him to task on his use of the word monster to describe the ability to resist evil but I'm not sure that it doesn't convey the appropriate message to the next generation who are obsessed with "safe spaces". No one is really safe from their own demons.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby Forest_Dump on February 11th, 2018, 6:43 pm 

Sorry I missed t5his before:

neuro wrote:Actually - please Forrest correct me if I'm wrong - many myths can be found which are quite similar in most cultures and in many cases they were shown to have arisen independently. They are likely to fulfil some need for emotional stability or reassurance in the face of fearful or puzzling environments, events, situations, social and affective relations.


As I said. I know next to nothing about Jung but I agree woth this (and what follows). "Historically" I have leaned towards Levi-Strauss' structuralist ideas, but not quite so much as to fall into the meme zone. I think there are many common reasons for why there are commonalities in things like myths and they do have some common "causes" IMHO. Just as one example, I spent a lot of time looking at the earth diver myth around the world (i.e., following Eliade) which most will know from Noah's ark, which of couse comes from the epic of Gilgamesh but is also common among First Nations religions as the world being made after a muskrat or other critter brought mud from the bottom of the water and ot was spread on the back of a turtle. Which, of course, has also spawned a "meme" around "what was the turtle on?" - Turtles all the way down." But yes, bottom line, I think there are commonalities in myths as explanations becuase there are commonalities among peoples.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby BadgerJelly on February 11th, 2018, 9:49 pm 

wolfhnd » February 12th, 2018, 3:47 am wrote:Joe Rogan took him to task on his use of the word monster to describe the ability to resist evil but I'm not sure that it doesn't convey the appropriate message to the next generation who are obsessed with "safe spaces". No one is really safe from their own demons.


I saw that. I pretty sure Peterson did a reasonable job of conveying the Jungian "shadow." Most people don't really understand what Jung was talking about here. They take it onboard in a vague way.

You don't get to see what kind of evil you're capable of until you're put under serious pressure. Even then people ignore it or make excuses. Jung's "shadow" is not about understanding that you are capable of evil, it is a matter of coming face to face with the most horrific side of human nature and unifying that part of you are something not to be pushed away or ignored, but as a very important part of the self that has to be engaged with.

In this respect I see that Peterson is taking the recent leftist shift to be a sign of the suppressed "shadow" (in regard to the social attitude.) If it is not dealt with it will effectively flood the ego (in the Jungian sense) and it won't be pretty.

To really face your shadow you need to get close enough to the point of committing a hideous act to realise it is YOU that is vicious and evil. When you do that you can see other people and understand that what you hate in their evil acts is really what you hate within yourself.

Anyway, slightly off topic! haha!

I made this post all those years ago because I was wondering about a physical substrate that could relate to archetypal forms (obviously not literal physical representations, but more like highly correlated substrates.) I am putting off studying neuroscience right now. Taking it one step at a time.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby BadgerJelly on February 11th, 2018, 10:01 pm 

Forest -

But yes, bottom line, I think there are commonalities in myths as explanations because there are commonalities among peoples.


This has been a fascination of mine for many years. The problem is figuring out the difference (if any) between the innate and environmental conditions. In this way Sapolsky has been an eye-opener for me. He reveals something I think we all know in his lectures online; that is the emergent rules at differing levels seeming to show the distinction to be more or less - the way I see it- as one of necessary scientific investigation rather than there being rigid boundaries.

If you've seen me ramble about Husserl you can probably guess why I am interested in Husserl regarding this.

I'm finding it hard to ignore the parallels in the three books I'm reading now. I guess it shouldn't be a big surprise given they were written when Jung was alive so these ideas were circulating. What does surprise me is Jung is not referenced by Levi, Eliade or Geertz. I am guessing, at least in part (Geertz), it is likely to be due to his academic image and how the whole New Age nonsense took up his ideas to push their skewed perspective.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby BadgerJelly on February 12th, 2018, 12:41 am 

Interestingly just spotted Husserl mentioned in a footnote referring to something Schutz wrote ... although I am not sure what it is Schutz wrote exactly - the reference is to Husserl's "natural attitude" (something I've mentioned myself elsewhere from "Crisis" - also "pre-scientific man".)

I am suspicious that Schutz has used this term somewhat removed from Husserl's intent ... I'll have to find that out in the future.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby wolfhnd on February 12th, 2018, 5:11 am 

Here is a rather old and somewhat speculative article but it may be relevant. It seems reasonable that there must be some physical influence that favors certain aspects of mythology to produce cross cultural similarities. What the article suggests is that there is evidence that certain social species share specialized cells for social functions. Which implies that physical structures do exist that influence culture. My position is that until proven otherwise we should take the parsimonious approach and assume that there are physical predispositions not only for socialization but mythological forms. The argument simply put is animals have instincts, humans are animals, therefore humans have instincts.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science- ... 133855450/
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby BadgerJelly on February 12th, 2018, 5:48 am 

Wolf -

That is the reductionist approach. It is limited. I don't adhere to it at all, and it looks like Levi-Strauss, Geertz and Eliade don't either. It is nuanced, as Sapolsky points out for behavioral biology too.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby wolfhnd on February 12th, 2018, 3:24 pm 

I'm simply suggesting that it is best to start at the beginning.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby mitchellmckain on February 12th, 2018, 4:23 pm 

neuro » March 28th, 2013, 12:16 pm wrote:Actually - please Forrest correct me if I'm wrong - many myths can be found which are quite similar in most cultures and in many cases they were shown to have arisen independently. They are likely to fulfil some need for emotional stability or reassurance in the face of fearful or puzzling environments, events, situations, social and affective relations.

I think considerable skepticism concerning this claim of independence is warranted. Cross-cultural communication is ubiquitous. There are just too many ways that ideas can be transferred from one culture to another with no documentation whatsoever. People adopt the ideas of others as their own and reshape them according to their own taste and purpose as well as their own distorted memory. AND this goes back and forth repeatedly until the ultimate origin of an idea is impossible to trace. Most of the time we attribute ideas to simply to the person that tooted his own horn the loudest.

This does not however detract from the importance of the fact that these ideas serve a universal purpose. After all the appeal of these ideas is also a reason why they are copied and repeated by others.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby wolfhnd on February 12th, 2018, 5:10 pm 

In reference to Jordan Peterson it's not clear what spiritual means although it seems to be a psychological phenomenon. Which in a way relates to BadgerJelly's objection to reductionism. Sometimes it isn't necessary to be precise.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby wolfhnd on February 12th, 2018, 5:40 pm 

mitchellmckain makes an important point concerning cultural transmission. That is why I'm suggesting if you want to know what being human means minus culture looking at other animals may be the best we can do. The neurological approach will be to complicate for the foreseeable future.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby Forest_Dump on February 12th, 2018, 8:33 pm 

mitchellmckain wrote:I think considerable skepticism concerning this claim of independence is warranted. Cross-cultural communication is ubiquitous. There are just too many ways that ideas can be transferred from one culture to another with no documentation whatsoever. People adopt the ideas of others as their own and reshape them according to their own taste and purpose as well as their own distorted memory. AND this goes back and forth repeatedly until the ultimate origin of an idea is impossible to trace. Most of the time we attribute ideas to simply to the person that tooted his own horn the loudest.

This does not however detract from the importance of the fact that these ideas serve a universal purpose. After all the appeal of these ideas is also a reason why they are copied and repeated by others.


This is all very true and, in fact, brings us back to problems of anthropology in the mid 20th century and earlier. Back then a dominant theme was "hyper-diffusionism" where people were commonly trying to trace any and every idea back to a single common source so that, for example, attempts were made to trace the idea of domestication back to a single source. Ditto for pyramids, myths, you name it. Needless to say many started to think there was something a bit racist or ethnocentric particularly since some argued that the common source was the Tower of Babel, one of the lost tribes of Israel, Phoenecian or Egyptian explorers, etc. But an alternative of hyper-autochthanism (i.e., everything was independently invented with no transmission of ideas even between closely spaced and related people) became just as silly. This, by the way, became a bit of a hall-mark for some of the "New Archeology" (read positivists) and Darwinists at least for a while but at least led to some solid work with trace elements to lock in evidence of trade of some solid materials. I think the reality is somewhere in between, of course, but more often than not it is extremely difficult to lock down anything solid on when and how ideas might have moved around, how they might have changed when they did and how they might have changed since. More recently I have been looking at how some very remote First Nations communities often (but not always or uniformly) appear to be relatively conservative christians but others closer to big cities, etc., are becoming more explicitely oriented towards believing in more traditional forms of religion (as well as they can reconstruct them) as a form of ethnoregenesis and for political action. It is very complex.
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby BadgerJelly on February 13th, 2018, 12:16 am 

It does seem to me to be ridiculous to suggest that culture doesn't travel as much as there are not independently arising myths - but the common feature is the "human".

I don't think it takes much to realise that there are certain ways the human brain works, and certain human moods and emotions, that relate to mythos.

Having just read the "dance" of Rangda-Barong the incident is clearly referring to something human that is able to connect to the mythic symbolism. Regardless of whether or not mythos is transferred the important thing we shouldn't forget is that those myths last and have stood the test of time. The reason is they relate to something innately human.

We don't generally refer to fathers and mothers as myths. But they are a huge part of the development of how the infant engages with the environment. There are certain inbuilt reactions, we're primed for food, sex and communication.

Jung's archetypes are essentially patterns of human behavior as it engages with the natural world. Whether we consider the "archetypes" as human or natural it is irrelevant and meaningless. The pattern is there and maybe looking for causation is pointless at this point in time. That said I do believe neuroscience will unearth some physical correlation between and human behavior (but there is no inherent "meaning" to reductist science.)
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Re: Anthropology, Neurology and Jung

Postby wolfhnd on February 13th, 2018, 2:16 am 

Well it would be nice if we had something like Stephen Wolfram's new kind of science to deal with complex chaotic systems such as humans and culture but we don't. For now we can pick our bits and pieces of the puzzle and see where they may fit. I wouldn't get hung up on how the pieces are found only if they are reliably part of picture.
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