The Essence of Archetypes

In: International Journal of Jungian Studies
Jon Mills Department of Psychology Adler Graduate Professional School Toronto Canada

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Jung’s notion of the archetype remains an equivocal concept, so much so that Jungians and post-Jungians have failed to agree on its essential nature. In this essay, I wish to argue that an archetype may be understood as an unconscious schema that is self-constitutive and emerges into consciousness from its own a priori ground, hence an autonomous self-determinative act derived from archaic ontology. After offering an analysis of the archetype debate, I set out to philosophically investigate the essence of an archetype by examining its origins and dialectical reflections as a process system arising from its own autochthonous parameters. I offer a descriptive explication of the inner constitution and birth of an archetype based on internal rupture and the desire to project its universality, form, and patternings into psychic reality as self-instantiating replicators. Archetypal content is the appearance of essence as the products of self-manifestation, for an archetype must appear in order to be made actual. Here we must seriously question that, in the beginning, if an archetype is self-constituted and self-generative, the notion and validity of a collective unconscious becomes rather dubious, if not superfluous. I conclude by sketching out an archetypal theory of alterity based on dialectical logic.

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