Analytical psychology and the dialectic of enlightenment

Bishop, P. (2022) Analytical psychology and the dialectic of enlightenment. In: Critical Theory and Psychoanalysis: From the Frankfurt School to Contemporary Critique. Series: Philosophy and psychoanalysis. Routledge, pp. 95-114. ISBN 9781032104287 (doi: 10.4324/9781003215301-4)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


In a remarkable and unexpected way, the global coronavirus pandemic – still ongoing at the time of writing – has demonstrated the validity of many core theses of critical theory as propounded by Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer in their book, Dialectic of Enlightenment, as well as of C. G. Jung’s analytical psychology. While some of Jung’s key tenets were discovered (if the transcriptions of his vision in The Red Book are to be believed) against the backdrop of the outbreak of World War I and Dialectic of Enlightenment was first published in Amsterdam in the final years of World War II, this chapter aims to show the continuing relevance of both intellectual traditions for the post-Covid-19 world and thereby to explore some of the points of affinity between them. Dialectic of Enlightenment as a whole and critical theory more generally involve the notion of “the totally administered society” or die verwaltete Welt, a reference to the society of late capitalism, in which a new form of fascism has taken root in the form of the self-legitimizing bureaucracy of administration. At a crucial point in their argument, Adorno and Horkheimer speak of the “remembrance of nature in the subject” as being the central point at which the Enlightenment is opposed to tyranny. This idea of an inner, primordial nature crops up time and again in the thinking of the first and second generations of the Frankfurt School (who, in their anti-Jungian outlook, attribute it solely to Freud), yet when in Civilization and its Discontents (1930) Freud writes that “a piece of unconquerable nature” forms “a part of our own psychical constitution,” he is echoing none other than Jung. Indeed, the notion of “inner nature” or “nature in the subject” forms the linchpin between analytical psychology and the Frankfurt School, and Adorno and Horkheimer’s insistence on the need for remembrance of nature within the subject is matched by Jung’s insistence on the reality of the psyche. For his part, Jung develops his own history of the Enlightenment, and analytical psychology presents itself as a program of recovery – above all, recovering a way of thinking that eschews non-ambiguity and non-contradiction as “one-sided” and thus as “unsuited to express the incomprehensible.” Like the Frankfurt School, Jung attaches the highest importance to philosophy and to art, and this is the reason for Jung’s interest in alchemy – as an “art,” since it “[felt] – and rightly so – that it was concerned with creative processes that can be truly grasped only by experience, though intellect may give them a name.”

Item Type:Book Sections
Additional Information:eISBN: 9781003215301
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bishop, Professor Paul
Authors: Bishop, P.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > German
Related URLs:

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record