Seeing with the eyes of the spirit

Bishop, P. (2022) Seeing with the eyes of the spirit. In: Carpani, S. (ed.) Anthology of Contemporary Theoretical Classics in Analytical Psychology: The New Ancestors. Routledge: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY, pp. 17-37. ISBN 9780367710194 (doi: 10.4324/9781003148982-2)

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Taking as its starting point a curious incident recorded in Goethe’s Dichtung und Wahrheit, this chapter explores the implications of what Goethe calls “seeing with the eyes of the spirit.” We can find this idea in Neoplatonic, patristic, and medieval mystical writings, as well as in various other philosophical authors of the eighteenth century and Goethe’s scientific writings, in which we find the suggestion that, in addition to our conventional perceptual apparatus, we can use our imagination or “mind’s eye.” For his part, Jung seeks to integrate intellect and feeling in his approach to the psyche, telling us that both are required to offer an adequate explanation of the psyche. The chapter goes on to consider how the notion of synthesis is linked with the central Goethean concepts of morphology, that is, with polarity and Steigerung (or intensification). In turn, it suggests that in Jungian thought these ideas feed into the notion of a constellation of the self, into a missionary vision of Kultur, and into a theory of the symbol. It concludes by arguing that, from the perspective of German classicism and analytical psychology alike, the relationship between culture and the attainment of the self is a reciprocal one. For Goethe and Schiller, as for Jung, the significance of culture lies in assisting us to realize the central nodal point at which all faculties are exercised and co-ordinated. At the heart of this thinking lies a notion of the symbolic life, iconographically embodied for Nietzsche in the figure of Goethe, and “the discovery of the world as a symbolic world” (as Vergely has written) is “a journey which procures an infinite joy.”

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bishop, Professor Paul
Authors: Bishop, P.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > German
Published Online:06 April 2022

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