- Paperback: 362 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; New Ed edition (5 Sept. 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415064767
- ISBN-13: 978-0415064767
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.1 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 167,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self (Collected Works of C. G. Jung) Paperback – 5 Sep 1991
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"Much of the material in this book and many of the conclusions are fascinating. There is a great deal here to illustrate the background of modern mysticism and much which the reader, of whatever orientation, will regard as insight."--Psychiatric Quarterly
"Aion contains some of Jung's most advanced thinking on the integrative principles of the psyche, and on the relation of matter to the symbolic processes of the collective unconscious. This is difficult ground to explore, but those who attempt the journey will find that their horizons have been surprisingly widened."--Psychosomatic Medicine
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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That said, _Aion_ is one of Jung's greatest works and is one of the first three that anyone who is new to Jung should start with. The first part deals with Christianity, and the significance of the death of Christ. This is treated as a legitimate, factual historical event, yet it is also explained as a collective pschic phenomenon in the general sense. The middle part of the book deals with ancient alchemy, and the symbolic parallels between alchemy and modern conceptions of psychology. This might sound dull, but trust me - you will be surprised to see the uncanny symbolic parallels between ancient magical practices and the most modern, up to date theories of the psyche. This is discussed at length in the section on the "Two Fishes", which is one of Jung's greatest essays (although quite difficult). The final section deals with quaternity symbolism, and features a wide array of strange diagrams. About 200 pages in, these diagrams will become more frequent, and the reader might get frustrated trying to see the significance of these rudimentary drawings. Personally, my advice is to stop reading after 200 pages. All of the useful essays are contained within these first 200 pages, while the final 50 or so pages contains esoteric essays which can be considered, at best, curiosity pieces for the insatiable, die-hard Jungian. The editiors wisely confined this esoterica to final few pages of the book. This is not to take anything away from the book as a whole. Overall, _Aion_ is extremely profound and insightful, and is a must read for Jungians and non-Jungians alike.
Jung suggests that humans have a psychological makeup that generally exceeds their ability to comprehend it. In this volume he defines and describes these "hidden" aspects of the human psyche, such as: the Ego, the Self, the Shadow, the Anima and others. Jung makes suggestions as to how modern Western humans can discover these unconscious aspects of themselves and how they can be integrated into human consciousness.
This volume hints at a process Jung called individuation, in which the personally unconscious aspects of a human being are united with their normal consciousness, and then this expanded consciousness becomes subservient to a new meta-consciousness, which he called The Self, and which transcends human comprehension, except as an experience. (It is beyond names and forms.) Jung spends a good deal of time describing The Self using Western religious metaphors to make his examples.
Most of Jung's theories have slipped into our collective Western unconsciousness, so that they are now part of our unconscious assumptions, (e.g. projection, shadow, denial, the unconsciousness of our faults) and if you would like to become conscious of these assumptions, a reading of this book might facilitate that experience.
If you are familiar with Jung's work, this will increase your understanding of his concept of the human psyche, its parts and the goal of unification of those parts.
Examples of this balance/compensation principle in AION:
(1) The Christ symbol. It's a symbol of the Self (like most of the symbols and archetypes discussed in the book), but it lacks a Shadow or inferior component; consequently, the early Christians were compelled to generate the Anti-Christ symbol. However, since the Christ and Anti-Christ are separate entities in traditional Christian thinking, the Western worldview has become highly dualistic and Manichaean, good vs. evil.
(2) The God archetype. As Western thinking has become increasingly secular over the centuries, the God-image has become repressed into the unconscious, where it emerges in savage political forms such as fascism, a worship of the State. (Jung wrote this a few years after World War II.)
(3) Leviathan and Behemoth. "God's monstrous antagonist produces a double because the God-image is incomplete..." (pg. 120).
(4) Sons of God in Catharist legend: Satanael the elder son, Christ the younger son. Similar to the Christ/Anti-Christ dichotomy.
(5) The "higher" and "lower" Adam figures in some Gnostic legends. The higher Adam represents higher states of consciousness; the lower Adam, the unconscious.
(6) The two thieves crucified with Christ. One is destined for heaven (higher consciousness), the other for a warmer climate (unconscious).
Of course, there's more to the book than this equilibrium-of-the-Self aspect. But that aspect ties in with the main theme, the process of individuation (or ascending to a higher state of consciousness) in the Western mind.
Jung really assaults the reader here with his encyclopedic knowledge of religion and alchemy. A lot of his later work deals with esoteric subjects (alchemy, gnosticism, hermeticism, kabbalah). I found a few of the religious subjects, like the medieval "Holy Ghost" movement, to be pretty interesting in themselves, but unfortunately Jung discusses only those elements that relate to his psychological theories.
But my very rudimentary understanding (to put forth one nut of many) is that consciousness, or the differentiation of self is a progression, which arises from a world of the unconscious. Anybody might say such a thing and get lucky, without having read Aion at all. But to read Aion and then say it is putting your money where your mouth is.
The template of self begins at the Anthropos (relying on the second-to-last chapter on the quaternario schema), and crystalizes in the lapis, where consciousness becomes fully realized.
Jung was not prosyletizing Christianity, but used Christ as an allegory of development of self. This is why he resorts to alchemy and Gnosticism, more than patristic forms of Christianity. He saw the philosophical underpinnings of Christianity as a workable model to explain how the higher human, who operates on his environment as well as on his own thinking, rises above his primal, animalist soma.
We began as a perfect template in the realm of the unconscious, we descended into the world of formation (borrowing from the Sephir Yetzirah here), or "Physis," as Jung called it, only to rise again through the quaternario ladder to become Anthropos once again.
By the way, the reader might note that in later chapters Jung seems to drop any mention about "Aion", a term better explained in the middle parts of the book (Ch. 5-11). I think Jung wanted us to apply his quaternario model on a meta-scale, not just as an explanation of the perfection of self and the emergence of consciousness.
As we know, we are nearing the end of the present Piscean Aion (the Jesus era), which was preceded by the war-like Arien Aion (the Greco/Roman conquest era), but which is to be followed by a more intellectual Aquarian Aion (whatever that will be).
The progression of the Aions, I think Jung hoped we would discern, correspond directly to his quaternario schema, and that human consciousness is tied to the meta-physical laws of the universe (in this case, astronomy) just like the ocean's tides correspond to the lunar phases.