Evolution, Jung, and Theurgy:
IV. Some Implications for Neoplatonism

K. The Higher Self

In Jungian psychology a special role is played by the Self, which for clarity I’ll call the “Higher Self.”  The Higher Self comprehends the totality of the archetypal field, and therefore it comprises all the archetypes.  Thus, the Higher Self comprehends the collective unconscious, and so it must be carefully distinguished from the individual, conscious ego, which is just one of its organs.

The Higher Self is the psychical correlate of the human genome, and thus it represents the “phylogenetic destiny” of the human species (Stevens 1982, 76).  That is, the Higher Self corresponds to the Ἄνθρωπος, the Archetypal Human, familiar from Gnostic and Hermetic texts (Stevens 1993, 47).  The Higher Self brings transpersonal meaning and purpose into our lives, and defines the πρόνοια (providence) governing all humans (Stevens 1982, 75–6).  Further, as we have seen, behind the personified archetypes are the more remote unpersonified archetypal Ideas corresponding to natural and mathematical law (Stevens 1982, 71–4).  These, too, are part of the Higher Self, and therefore constitutive of our destiny.

To live meaningful, significant lives, then, we should live in conscious, intentional accord with the destiny of the universe.  Jung called this lifelong process individuation, because through it a person becomes individuus, that is, undivided, integral.  As the Jungian analyst Anthony Stevens (1982, 142) says, “Individuation is a conscious attempt to bring the universal programme of human existence to its fullest possible expression in the life of the individual.”  Wisdom, then, is to be guided by the Πρόνοια of the Higher Self.

This transcendent Higher Self, corresponding to the genome, also has an immanent projection, and we may identify, perhaps, the immanent Higher Self with the ἴδιος δαίμων, the personal or guardian daimôn, at least in some versions of that idea.  The Higher Self also seems to be a likely candidate for Socrates’ δαιμόνιον.  Dodds (1951, 42) argues that from the Archaic period someone’s personal daimôn was virtually synonymous with their destiny, and Georg Luck (1985, 171) remarked, “the daimonion could be called the suprarational personality that controls the whole of our lives…”

Jung stresses that the Higher Self is paradoxical — and even contradictory — because it comprehends all the opposites.  He calls it the Unus Mundus, but in Neoplatonic terms it is τὸ ἄρρητον ἕν (the Inexpressible One), which unifies mind and matter, unity and plurality, stability and change — indeed being and non-being.  The only way to bridge these contradictions, according to Jung, is by a symbolic process, which he calls the transcendent function.  This is the basis for the essential role of symbols in theurgy (explained in Section V).

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