הרצאה מתוך הכנס הבינלאומי בקופנהאגן
The three essays by Erich Neumann we wish to discuss here today are “The Psyche and the Transformation of Reality Planes”, “The Psyche as the Place of Creation”, and “Man and Meaning.” These are the last in a series of lectures Neumann wrote for the Eranos conferences between 1952 and 1959, the year before his untimely death at the age of fifty-five. In them, Neumann presents the meta-psychological concepts he developed in over a decade of theoretical inquiry and creative thinking. They bridge the developmental psychology he is normally identified with and his original existential-analytic ideas.
Neumann’s psychological thought, though primarily Jungian, was fostered by the existential tradition of Central Europe and nourished by Judaic sources, in particular, the dialogic philosophy of Martin Buber.
After Jung’s retirement in 1951, Neumann became the leading figure of what was known as the Eranos group. Eranos is a Greek word meaning a type of un-hosted, egalitarian banquet to which every guest brings a different contribution. Eranos conferences, initiated by Olga Froebe-Kapteyn in 1933, continue to be held annually in the Italian-Swiss town of Ascona on Lake Maggiore. One famous picture of participants at the Eranos conferences shows an assemblage of the best scholarship in various fields of human inquiry, psychologists, philosophers, specialists in mythology and comparative religion, and leading scientists, sitting around a circular table under a spreading tree. Their papers were collected and published in the Eranos Jahrbuch.
A brief biographical introduction to Erich Neumann at this point will be useful since not many people are familiar with his meta-psychology, and he is known primarily as an analytical/developmental psychologist. There are several reasons for this: 1. Neumann’s split from the Psychological Club of Zurich when he immigrated to Israel. We know that the club members rejected Neumann and harshly criticized his “Depth Psychology and the New Ethic”, published in 1949. 2. In England, Michael Fordham, who represented the developmental faction, also lambasted his work. 3. In the United States his writings were only belatedly translated and to this day he is far more widely known as the author of “The Great Mother” and “The Origins and History of Consciousness” than for his remarkable Eranos papers. 4. In Israel, too, Neumann remained isolated both culturally and socially, due in part to his introversion and reluctance to enter public life beyond the establishment of a small circle of Jungians. He refused to lecture at universities and elsewhere, particularly since he spoke and wrote in German at a time when the German language was less than favored in Israel. At that time too, the psychoanalytic school held absolute sway in the country, so that few of Neumann’s works were ever translated into Hebrew.
Erich Neumann was born in Berlin in 1905, and died in Tel Aviv in 1960. Zurich, where Neumann met Jung in 1932, was a way station for him and his family en route to Israel in 1934 after the Nazi rise to power. Imagine if you will the encounter between Neumann and Jung, his elder by thirty years. Young Neumann appears before Jung with an essay on Kafka’s “The Trial”, his thesis being that a personal rather than transpersonal approach to the law leads inevitably to a Kafkaesque bewilderment, with an inability to find meaning in life and realize selfhood. Neumann repeats the prison chaplain’s words: Upon entering the courthouse gates you have an opportunity to an 'Auseinandersetzung' with your primary guilt and the call of transcendent law that comes out of the judgment.
'Auseinandersetzung' is a dialog with oneself, with an other or more others. It means an effort to listen to the other side even when opinions are opposed, to come to understanding and wishing to find a solution respecting both sides.
Thus, every trial represents an opportunity to accomplish the central task of entering the law (that is, to encounter the transpersonal in the process of individuation). Entering the transpersonal can occur anytime, anywhere, and anything we experience in the world around us, a tree, a knock on the door, a neighbor, anything at all may be relevant to the trial.
Jung received the essay and its author with great enthusiasm. Neumann underwent analysis with Jung for a year after that and they would meet regularly whenever Neumann was in Zurich. Neumann continued to correspond with him from Tel Aviv after the war years. Nevertheless, Neumann’s essay on Kafka was not published until 1958, two and a half decades after that first encounter with Jung. In the interim, Neumann developed his principles into a unique and independent theory, unconstrained by Jung’s influence, despite the intellectual rapport that is so evident in their correspondence. This development of Neumann’s thought is infused with the bold, innovative spirit of the Weimar Republic, a phenomenological methodology, and his studies of Hasidism and Kabala at the university in Berlin before he met Jung.
Introduction to a Discussion of the Essays
Our talk today will focus on the concept of the ego-self axis, Erich Neumann’s singular contribution to analytical psychology. This idea is central to Neumann’s conceptualization of the psyche and expresses a dialogic relationship between the two. In contrast to the Jungian depiction of the ego-self relationship as that of a higher integrative power to an inferior one, Neumann views the ego as an offshoot of the self, a filiale immanent to experience. To quote Neumann's words: “When the ego experiences itself as an organ of centroversion (and not mere-ego) it becomes an offshoot of the self, and experiences itself as a numinous openness related to the numinous power of the self.” The process of filialsierung exists from the start, as does the process of individuation, where ego and self draw closer together for the purpose of centroversion.
Neumann goes beyond the archetypal which, as we shall see, he locates in the archetypal field, and represents the ego-self relationship as an expression of dialogic centeredness and wholeness, a reciprocal relationship, both outward and inward. Thus, to the psychic state of nur welt with nur ego, mere-world and mere-ego, he adds a relationship describable as tertium non datur- the third is not given.
Neumann sometimes calls this the ego-self axis or the self-ego axis, and we shall presently see the significance of the reversal. Whereas Jung views the self as the central organizing archetype that guides the psyche and the ego as a complex that is not at the center of personality but at the center of consciousness, Neumann coins the term ego-self axis to describe ego and self as a dialogical unit that evolves around an axis. As Jung’s pupil, Neumann too ascribes primary importance to the polarity of ego consciousness and the archetypal unconscious, but Neumann draws attention to the dialogical nature of the ego-self axis while Jung describes it as a hierarchical one-way relationship.
Let us now explore three aspects of the ego-self axis as Neumann delineates them in three of his essays.
The Psyche and the Transformation of the Reality Planes (1952)
In this essay Neumann describes the paradigm of the ego-self axis centering in the psyche as it cuts through three planes of reality or fields of knowledge: the plane of reality, the archetypal plane and the plane of the self. That such fields exist in parallel is Neumann’s original idea, an idea that would appear to go well beyond the conception developed by Jung.
In Neumann’s meta-psychological conceptualization, the terms “field” and “knowledge” indicate different planes of reality which he describes in philosophical-anthropological terms. The ego for him is not a complex but a field of knowledge represented by an ego-consciousness that exists as a pole of the ego-self axis. He asks what makes man unique and finds the answer in ego-consciousness. This, he claims, is the distinguishing characteristic of the human species that enables human beings to adapt to every possible environment in contrast to other living creatures who are connected to a specific habitat in a unified field. Animals are dependent on such a field, which forms a cross-section of the specific unified field for a particular species. Therefore, “the extent of their adaptation to their particular field… allows their existence just as it excludes their freedom, that is, their existence under different living conditions." (Erich Neumann (1989). The place of Creation. Princeton, Bollingen Series LXI:3. P.9). The human situation is different in that man is not enclosed in the world but confronts it rather at a distance, seeing it as an external object to be handled by means of instrumental techniques. This condition of ego consciousness gives man an advantage over other living creatures but it also alienates him from the world, because he is not ‘in’ it but ‘facing’ it.
Consciousness field Archetypal field Self field
Psyche-psyche Welt-world Selbst-self Ich-ego
This is how Neumann describes one of the three fields of knowledge- or planes of reality-which he calls the reality field. Ego consciousness is part of the field of reality, which appears to it as unique and objective. Neumann emphasizes that all three fields are fields of reality, even when ego-consciousness does not grasp the other two fields- the archetypal and the self- as reality. From the point of view of ego-consciousness there is a clear demarcation between inside and outside, “subjective” and “objective”. That is why ego-consciousness views participation mystique as a false reality, in as much as in this state the subject is absorbed into a field where the boundary line between subject and object is blurred or even void. And here Neumann makes an important statement: “We (psychologists) are accustomed to explaining participation mystique as a state resulting from the presence of projections. And we also say conversely that that projection constitutes a part of unconscious identity and thereby leads to participation mystique…” (ibid, p.14). But if we accept participation mystique as a unique reality that exists in parallel with the reality field then it entails one of the three reality planes and is therefore not a projection.
To elucidate this, Neumann gives the example of a primitive man who says he obtained some secret inner knowledge from a bird that flew over him. He ascribes the passing on of this inner knowledge to the bird while we psychologists would claim that the man has projected the knowledge that was in him onto the bird. The projection argument is based on the fact that we distinguish between inside and outside and see no realistic connection between them, only coincidence. In this way we cancel out the connection between inside and outside which exists in a field that is not the reality field of ego. Yet this too is a reality. According to Neumann, the correct description of the facts would be to say that the knowledge imparted to the primitive by means of the bird is field knowledge, extraneous knowledge present or emergent in the living field enclosing both the bird and primitive. This, of course, is something ego consciousness cannot accept. Neumann calls such extraneous knowledge, “field content” that does not require one to determine whether it is inner or outer, since it is an experience of a unitary reality. Psychologists find it difficult to adapt to the phenomenological method Neumann uses in clarifying and conceptualizing the phenomena we observe, the method of existential psychology, which is descriptive rather than explanatory, with no use for mechanisms like projection. Phenomenology enables Neumann to describe the contents of parallel reality fields.
From the knowledge field of ego-consciousness, which is what we call the reality plane, Neumann proceeds to describe the archetypal field.
In his conceptualization of the archetypal field Neumann does not relate to specific archetypes in the manner of analytical psychology and his treatment of the collective unconscious expands on Jung’s description and understanding of synchronous phenomena: Where’s the wonder in synchronicity, he implies, since like all T phenomena, it is constantly arising and might be observed by consciousness at any given moment so that the events seem to take place through a coincidence of circumstances. Likewise, the archetype, being always and everywhere transgressive, invariably brings phenomena into view which consciousness recognizes as synchronicity.
Neumann goes on to reformulate what he calls the archetypal reality plane, focusing not only on the psyche but on the relationship between human beings and between man and the world. “The outer world is experienced as an image which is psychically given, just as the psychic image is the reactive impression of the psychic realm on something experienced as external… When we say that the archetype always appears in projection, it means that it is manifested in a person-to-person or in a person-to-world context and is never merely a physically-outer or psychically-inner occurrence…The whole framework that we call living in the world is always involved in even the apparently innermost events…the world as something –not-merely-psychic also plays a decisive part.” (ibid, p. 25-6)
Neumann introduces the concept of “world” or “universe” into his discussion of fields of knowledge, and his understanding of the transgressive nature of the archetype is this: it is not a projection but the presence of the field. As he writes: “Thus, for example, the analyst is an inner as well as an outer, an archetypal and yet precisely a specifically individual and human reality. Complementing the polar experience of the conscious mind, reality always represents a pradoxical coincidentia oppositorum, which at times expresses itself in the ‘true’ identity of inner and outer, of psyche and world.” (ibid, p. 26), Neumann describes the archetypal field as possessing an alternative character (Neumann’s term), meaning that the archetypal field may manifest with or without form, which paradoxically appears as both or neither.
Unitary reality is a unified field possessing two aspects: energy and form. This unitary field is at once energy-dynamic and possessed of a discernible form. Its double aspect is reflected in the human psyche. In this context Neumann introduces the concepts of numinosity and luminosity. The numinous is the energetic-dynamic aspect of unitary reality. Luminosity is the aspect of form which Neumann calls quantitative or physical. Luminosity (form) and numinosity (energy) are not traits of the psyche that are projected onto the world but rather elements of the realities with which the psyche is in contact. What this means explicitly is that there is no projection from the inner-psychic world outward to reality but rather that both luminosity and numinosity are inherent to reality. They exist simultaneously not only in the archetypal field but in all three coinciding planes of reality. Neumann goes on to describe the coincidentia oppositorum as a paradoxical union of numinosity and luminosity. Only by looking at the unitary reality from the perspective of energy (numinosity) and form or physicality (luminosity) can we approach a true understanding of such a paradoxical reality. The basic principle is that the energy-dynamic aspect and the form-meaning aspect are interrelated. The creative force is not mere free energy but is embedded in forms and images. This applies to all the reality planes: the inorganic, organic and psychic planes where it manifests in images or forms that give shape and give meaning.
Inherent to this concept of unitary reality is Neumann’s claim that psychology must relate to more than the energy-dynamic aspect of the psyche. Here Neumann expands his discussion of the luminous that represents form-physicality, claiming that it is un-projected and pertains not just to the psyche but often, to the world. This is what is meant by “field”. In other words- the concept of the archetype exists in Neumann’s psychology as a ubiquitous knowledge field.Here perhaps is the reason why Neumann never once relates to a specific archetype in these Eranos papers. From today’s perspective- 50 years after Neumann’s lectures and a hundred years since the initial stages of analytical psychology- we can understand the uniqueness of Neumann’s use of the language of analytical psychology in an existential context. In these lectures he goes beyond himself as a developmental Jungian.
Later on in his essay Neumann presents the self-field – an original conceptualization in which we see the originality of his thought and the uniqueness of his contribution. He positions the self-field at another level than the archetypal field. The connection between the self-field and ego consciousness is created by the axis that can be read either as self-ego or as ego-self. Here Neumann introduces what we have described as “beyond Jung” for beyond the archetypes, there is another self-field, where the self is not an archetype. This field is active in all areas, not only in the human psyche, but everywhere in the biological and physical world.
It is in this ego-self axis that Neumann locates man’s distinctiveness, and the basis of his creativity and freedom.
“In the deeper regulating or ordering field which we call the self-field, a creative and spontaneous character of order is at work, in contrast to the fixed, rigid order represented by the archetypal structure as such.” (ibid, p. 49). Neumann says explicitly here that the archetypes being paradigmatic are rigid and limited and he compares them almost one to one with the instincts. The self however is not an archetype, not even a higher archetype, but a different field that regulates and guides without being a paradigm. Although it is drawn as a topographic model it is existence beyond psychology. And for this reason, Neumann presents it as meta-psychology, since it traverses psychology and goes beyond the archetype.
The description of centroversion in stages represents Neumann’s theory of the ego-self axis: in the first stage the ego is a complex and like all complexes it is rooted in the archetype. Thus far there is no expansion on Jung. In the second stage, however, centroversion brings about the centering of ego-consciousness, that is, the ego is no longer a complex but a reality plane of consciousness in and of itself. In the third stage the ego recognizes its place as a filiale and satellite of the self. This is the insight the conscious ego arrives at, its relative place as the “son of the self”. But being connected with the self, the ego, like the self, is located on the self-ego axis, as part of the self-field that is capable of synchronizing the regulation of inner and outer in a freer way than the field of the limited archetypal structure as such. In his essay “The Psyche as the Place of Creation” Neumann explains that in the third stage when the ego is connected to the self it is not a complex but a part of the ego-self that realizes the creative process.
Neumann describes centroversion along two axes: the vertical axis along which the archetypal field approaches the self-field and personality sinks into the archetypal field where it meets the self-field. And the horizontal axis along which the integration of the psyche and the world takes place together with the approach of the ego and the self. The two axes coexist and create centroversion.
Neumann the existentialist brings freedom into the picture. This for him signifies creative freedom. It is a given in all the reality planes in accordance with their position in the integrative developmental process . “The transformation of the psyche manifests itself in the human being’s changing relationship to the reality planes as they respectively become accessible to him or her, and the creative freedom of life as well as the extent and luminosity of experience are directly dependent on the phase of transformation in which the personality of the human being happens to be.” (ibid, p. 54). At the point of the personality’s centroversion “the world-encompassing self-field, and the central point within the psyche become identical. And the central self-form, the godhead within us, appears the same as the godhead who is the creator of the world.” (ibid, p.59)
The central principle in these statements is that there is no more distinction between the personal self responsible for the process of one's individuation and the greater self that guides the whole world. What this means is that the symbols of the self are not projections from the inner world to the outside and not the reflection of the outside in the inner world, but rather a union of outer and inner. For Neumann the question whether or not God is a projection of the self in the inner world to the outer world is extraneous. God is found both inside and outside and is revealed in centroversion.
The essay ends with a kind of insight: ”In the presence of the unity of self-field, the archetypal field, human personality, and ego consciousness, the ego achieves, by way of its tri-partite orientation toward world, psyche, and self, a fourth unitary orientation which expresses the identity of that which was separated into world and psyche, self and ego. This unitary experience is in fact the highest form of ‘formedness’ (or Gestaltetheit). In it an essential meaning of the outgrowth from self to ego is being fulfilled, an outgrowth which is traceable throughout the entire evolutionary history and throughout the succeeding history of humanity.” (ibid, p. 60).
And from here we segue to the essay “The Psyche as the Place of Creation”
The Psyche as the Place of Creation (1959)
In his essay “The Psyche as the Place of Creation” Neumann presents the evolution of what he calls man’s “creative life spirit” which is embedded in every creation. His basic premise is that man’s creative energy aims at bestowing meaningfulness on the individual’s life, and it is from this perspective that he presents the evolution of creativity.
Neumann introduces a philosophical-anthropological evolutionary aspect to the ego-self axis as part of human development in general. He uses the Jungian typology- extraversion and introversion- in relation to the ego, representing them not as positions of the personality but as two simultaneous and continuous facets of the ego. The ego is “Janus-like” with two faces, extraverted and introverted, sometimes looking inward and sometimes outward.
Projection is an extraverted tendency, Neumann explains, one that was central to an early phase of development and which still affects modern man. He defines projection as an evolutionary mechanism: “What depth psychology describes as ‘projection’ is only the continuation of this primary extraversion of the bio-psychic life-processes.” (ibid, p. 362)
Neumann explains the specifically human development of the psyche, as a departure from the primal extraversion of survival common to all living creatures. This development polarizes the world into outside and inside. Here we believe that Neumann views the ego from a new perspective: it is the ego in which there is an embedded potential for flexibility and creativity. We imagine the Janus head with the two faces turning inward and outward on this ego-self axis. When a person is unconscious of the Janus character of the ego, he or she projects the inside outside, and the tendency toward extraversion remains strong. This condition leads to a splitting of the psycho-spiritual world.
The conventional theory of evolution speaks of a process of differentiation in which psychic life is as an outgrowth of a prior stage where the psycho-spiritual element was lacking. Notwithstanding, Neumann confirms his meta-psychology: “It is probably clear by now that our meta-psychological approach is attempting a different kind of interpretation, since we view the creative and formative principle as a primary manifestation of the vital process which has only come to its most particular and clearly marked expression in the human psyche.” (ibid, pp.365-6). The Janus-faced ego consciousness as it intensifies relates to the creative principle and the world from two perspectives: the perspective of the world as outer in its luminous aspect, seemingly “ignorant” that it is only one aspect. The polar perspective, that which sees the world as internal, in its numinous aspect, is the other aspect of the luminous form-physical. From an evolutionary point of view these two are still polar aspects of a Janus-like ego consciousness and therefore consciousness is unable to grasp the unitary reality.
The more this Janus-like consciousness develops, the more the bi-polarity of the psyche reveals itself and a transformation of consciousness occurs, one that might be called revolutionary. The primal extraversion of ego-energies is transformed because the ego’s development prevents it from ignoring the numinous aspect, that is, the introverted view that arises. Ego-consciousness is able to see the relativity of phenomena and penetrate what the extraverted view calls “phenomenological reality”. In other words, as we shall soon see in the words of Neumann himself, the more highly developed consciousness – the consciousness of the individual in our times- recognizes the psyche and the inner world, but is still polarized in its reflection on them. “When the ego becomes conscious of the inwardness of the psyche, there is still no new development, apart from the fact that this leads to the birth of depth- psychology, which like every other science comprehends reality by a process of comparison and confrontation, and approaches this reality in the same way, from outside- that is, by treating it as an object, as is done- though with other methods- by the natural sciences.” (ibid, p. 367).
Neumann says here that depth psychology as an area of psychological research relates to inner and outer reality as objects. Jung’s discoveries about the psyche came from the experiences and personal visions he reveals in “The Red Book” which was recently published. It seemed very important to Jung to present his discoveries in a scientific light. This is why the student of Jung’s theories senses the Janus aspect that runs through his writings. In Neumann’s last essays he presents himself explicitly as a meta-psychological thinker with an independent standing and re-defines his developmental theory, without recourse to empiricism, as we shall clearly see in the following passages.
“…It is an altogether different matter when man experiences himself as an ego-self form, i.e., when he becomes aware, not of his inwardness but of his inner being. He experiences himself in his ego-self being as a creatively formative power which is alive in himself, in his ego and in his self; he is part of this power as an ego, and as a self he himself is this power…” (ibid, p. 367)
This great experience takes place in a state Neumann describes as “destiny” wherein man ceases to experience himself as “relative man” and can experience himself and his own numinosity as “absolute man”. “This experience takes place in the midst of the world and of the problems of the age and by no means in some remote ‘free space’ since ‘to have a destiny’ does not mean to exist outside time.”(ibid, p. 369)
This emphasis of Neumann’s on the “here and now” and not in some higher spiritual sphere reveals his existential-dialogic thought influenced by the writings of Martin Buber.
Neumann describes the ego experiencing itself as an organ of centroversion, a viceroy of the self, that ceases to be fixed as the center of a closed system and experiences itself instead as numinously open in relation to the self. This experience of openness and formlessness is one of absolute existential freedom. It does not refer to the “free will” of mere-ego consciousness. When Neumann writes “mere-ego” he is referring to the condition that ego or consciousness does not recognize its connection to the self as filiale and “forgets that it is the son of the king”. So it seems to the ego that it is the ruler, but this is a mistake, because then the ego is truly a complex and as such it is not ruler but ruled. When the ego is connected to the self it is not a complex but a part of the ego-self totality that fulfills the creative process. A space is opened up between ego and self which gives access to creativity. Thus it is not consciousness that gives rise to true freedom! Freedom and openness are the space between the ego and the self that makes creativity possible.
In this connection Neumann refers to a Hasidic story that had occupied his thoughts for many years. “It is a story told by a rabbi about a simple Jew, to whom the prophet Elijah had appeared. But the appearance of Elijah ‘signifies the real initiation of the individual into the secret of the doctrine.” [Martin Buber, Die chassidischen Buecher (Hellerau, 1928), p.690, note]. The rabbi was asked how this could possibly be true, since the appearance of the prophet had never been vouchsafed to Master Ibn Esra, a man who was spiritually on an altogether higher plane. The rabbi replied that a larger or smaller part of the ‘Allsoul’ of Elijah enters into every child, according to his temperament and inheritance. And if the person concerned, when he is growing up, trains his part of the soul of Elijah, then Elijah will appear to him. The simple man to whom Elijah had appeared had realized his small part of the soul of Elijah, whereas Ibn Esra had not realized his much larger part.” (ibid, p.374). Neumann introduces this Hasidic tale from Buber’s “Tales of the Hasidim” because the basic idea of Hasidism is that the formless, which is God the Creator, is found within every molecule of this world and every molecule can fulfill God’s numinosity.
The third and final essay we will speak about today, “Man and Meaning,” addresses the meaning of man’s experience in relation to the ego-self axis.
Man and Meaning (1957)
In the essay “Man and Meaning” Neumann struggles with the meaning of existence and reveals his belief in God and connection to Jewish tradition. The essay provides a kind of “Answer to Jung” in which he expands on what Jung wrote about YHWH in “Answer to Job” (Jung C.G. (1952). Antwort auf Hiob. Rascher Verlag.)
In Neumann’s words:” …On my path in life I have learned to experience and to venerate the divine as something formless and creative. This path in life has perhaps brought me closer to an understanding of the self-revelation of YHWH in whose sign the Exodus from Egypt took place and every exodus from Egypt takes place, namely the strange divine name Ehyeh asher ehyeh: I am who I am. Since every human being can speak only of his own experience when the question of meaning arises, I too, can speak only of my personal experience and say what this Eheyeh means to me in this connection…I am convinced that the point of consciousness with which I as an ego am endowed springs directly from this eheyeh asher eheyeh, I who I am, which is the name of God. This numinous I-point of consciousness which engenders me in every moment as an ego, is the actual self-ego-structure of my imperishable being.” (ibid, p. 238). And later he adds: “The motto vocatus atque non vocatus aderit deus applies here, in the formulation: known or unknown, here is the ’I am.’. (ibid, p. 239).
The above Latin motto, “called or uncalled, the god will be present” was engraved on the entrance door to Jung’s house in Kuesnacht. Although Neumann mentions nothing about this, there seems to be an implied answer to Jung in the paraphrase: for me what is engraved is the Jewish formulation of the Book of Exodus “I am who I am”.
Neumann expounds his main argument: The creative in the human psyche with its source in the collective unconscious always exists, both in the interconnection between human beings and between the individual and humanity, and in the intra-connection between consciousness and the unitary reality of the unconscious. In this Neumann sees the meaning of human existence and the hope for its development even when it seems as though humanity has reached an impasse. The connection between human beings and between one individual and all of humanity which makes creative fulfillment possible is an aspect of the dialogue that gives meaning. There is nowhere in the world where unconditional creativity does not exist, writes Neumann, and thus there is no state of imprisonment in the deep sense. Man is always greater than an atomized ego and there is no industrial or technological development that can rob him of being a creative-creating man.
Nevertheless, the connection with a unitary reality is endangered by the development of consciousness within the cultural canon, which may bring about alienation between the developing ego and the self to the point that it seemingly forgets that it is a filiale of the self that is the source. This is the sense of alienation and isolation of the king’s son who can’t remember the experience of being a prince. We might add here following Neumann’s thought that the ego cannot remember being the son of the queen, either, that is, the matriarchate, where death is a death that returns to life and not to extinction beyond which there is nothingness. Only when the ego is able to distance itself from being a slave to mere-ego in the mere-world can it succeed in bringing itself back to the experience of ego-self.
The concepts mere-ego and mere-world were coined by Neumann to express the breakdown of the connection to unitary reality. The psyche is an inextricable weave of the physical, human and the divine. Ego consciousness tries and must try to distinguish between being with, being in and being opposite, which in the depths of the psyche are experienced as unitary reality. However, one must remember that building life does not take place somewhere outside the world but inside it. The world exists within man and not just as matter but as function. Man develops in the world and knows it.
As an existentialist Neumann emphasizes that the world is central to the psyche. Unlike Jung who speaks of an ego complex, Neumann distinguishes between mere ego which is false and the ego-self which is a true experience. The experience of ego-self is “the divine created out of the divine and belonging to it,” and not a projection of the self on God. Neumann maintains ardently that the ego and the self are not essentially different from each other but rather emanate from different levels of the divine. In other words they are different aspects or states of transparency of the truth of being.
We will end our talk with Neumann’s ethical cry: A decisive challenge looms ahead. We must ” illuminate the darkness into which we stumble as a 'mere-ego'. When I say challenge I mean that we must experience ourselves in our humanness, for only as a self-ego do we transcend the boundaries of ourselves as ego and become Homo-humanus in his uniqueness as in our own…free and open, creators of the world and belonging to the world.” (ibid, p. 235)