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Wotan - Carl Jung


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The short 1936 essay, Wotan by Carl Jung, is on the influence of ancient Teutonic mythology in Germany.

 

It includes the following statement that sums up the relationship between science and religion from Jung's perspective of spiritual psychoanalysis.

 

"A mind that is still childish thinks of the gods as metaphysical entities existing in their own right, or else regards them as playful or superstitious inventions...  The gods are without doubt personifications of psychic forces.  To assert their metaphysical existence is as much an intellectual presumption as the opinion that they could ever be invented."

 

 

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Jung is very well known in the fields of psychology and psychoanalysis. He was a Swiss Citizen who died in the 1960's. He had many unique ideas that made his mark on these social-science fields which continue to this day. His ideas concerning religion, philosophy, and mysticism were less popular but still have a following.

 

His essay on the influences of "Ancient Teutonic Mythology in Germany" written in German, was very popular in Germany during the rise and rule of Hitler. Some have said that he privately spoke out against Nazism as a Swiss Citizen, but others accused him of being an anti-Semite.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Jung

https://www.openculture.com/2017/11/carl-jung-psychoanalyzes-hitler.html

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1 hour ago, pantheory said:

His essay on the influences of "Ancient Teutonic Mythology in Germany" was popular in Germany during the rise and rule of Hitler.

Do you have any evidence for this claim?

You may be wrongly referring to Jung's essay on Wotan, linked in the OP.  This essay certainly was not popular with the Nazis. 

In Wotan, Jung states "the psychologist cannot avoid coming to grips with contemporary history, even as his very soul shrinks from the political uproar, the lying propaganda, and the jarring speeches of the demagogues.

A number of critics have vainly tried to paint Jung as a Nazi sympathiser, but such a political reading has to ignore his disclaimers like this one I have just quoted.

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I wonder if the concept is behind Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" book (and TV series)? It seems possible that he took it one step further and "incarnated" the gods that people have projected and worshiped. One aspect of Gaiman's writing I didn't like was the more shallow version of Odin (Wotan) that is the primary antagonist, though there is never just one version, as there is not just one version of each of us. 

 

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On 1/4/2021 at 12:32 AM, Robert_Tulip said:

Do you have any evidence for this claim?

You may be wrongly referring to Jung's essay on Wotan, linked in the OP.  This essay certainly was not popular with the Nazis. 

In Wotan, Jung states "the psychologist cannot avoid coming to grips with contemporary history, even as his very soul shrinks from the political uproar, the lying propaganda, and the jarring speeches of the demagogues.

A number of critics have vainly tried to paint Jung as a Nazi sympathiser, but such a political reading has to ignore his disclaimers like this one I have just quoted.

My quote:

"His essay on the influences of "Ancient Teutonic Mythology in Germany" was popular in Germany during the rise and rule of Hitler."

 

Hi Robert,

 

Haven't seen you in this forum for awhile now? Nice to see you back :). This link is the bases for my quote above.

 

https://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/articles/analytical-psychology/47-jungs-shadow-two-troubling-essays-by-jung

 

Here is another link I just found

 

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1016/j.histeuroideas.2010.12.001?scroll=top&needAccess=true&journalCode=rhei20

 

It would have been more accurate if I would have said that many of the ideas that Jung expressed in his essay "Wotan," were becoming popular in Germany when the essay was published in 1936. Whether many believe Jung's essay increased the popularity of the mythology, and the related culture identity movement after publication seems unclear from my readings.

 

 

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14 hours ago, Fuego said:

I wonder if the concept is behind Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" book (and TV series)? It seems possible that he took it one step further and "incarnated" the gods that people have projected and worshiped. One aspect of Gaiman's writing I didn't like was the more shallow version of Odin (Wotan) that is the primary antagonist, though there is never just one version, as there is not just one version of each of us. 

I led an online discussion on American Gods some years ago, although some of my posts got truncated later by some accidental algorithm.

It is a fascinating and brilliant book. I am sure that Jung’s theory in Wotan of Gods as psychic forces rather than either existing or invented entities was an important influence on Gaiman.  His characters such as Wednesday seek to somehow channel personalities out of the American collective unconscious. 

This theory of Jung’s is the point of this thread, with his question of how the psychic forces at play in German identity, including the heritage of Teutonic myth, helped create the conditions for the rise of Hitler, and constitute the only way that Wotan can really be said to exist.

It is not surprising that people who are hostile to the concept of spirituality would misunderstand and distort this analysis, as seen in Jung's debate with Freud and his disciples.  As well, this discussion teeters close to Godwin’s Fallacy, which has the unfortunate consequence of blocking conversation about the depth psychology of fascism as too traumatic and upsetting.

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19 hours ago, pantheory said:

My quote:

"His essay on the influences of "Ancient Teutonic Mythology in Germany" was popular in Germany during the rise and rule of Hitler."

 

Hi Robert,

 

Haven't seen you in this forum for awhile now? Nice to see you back :). This link is the bases for my quote above.

 

https://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/articles/analytical-psychology/47-jungs-shadow-two-troubling-essays-by-jung

 

Here is another link I just found

 

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1016/j.histeuroideas.2010.12.001?scroll=top&needAccess=true&journalCode=rhei20

 

It would have been more accurate if I would have said that many of the ideas that Jung expressed in his essay "Wotan," were becoming popular in Germany when the essay was published in 1936. Whether many believe Jung's essay increased the popularity of the mythology and related culture after publication seems unclear from my readings.

 

 

Hi Pantheory, I have been participating quite actively on the ex-Christian forum for a few months now, including reviving my earlier thread from 2017 on Christian origins and starting a new one on precession in Christianity.  Thanks for your kind welcome.

 

Your first link by Per Brask displays a truly pitiful level of analysis.  It seems to support a preconceived implication that Jung was a Nazi  sympathiser by pretending he supported views that he in fact opposed. As I noted in my previous reply, for Jung to describe the Nazis as "lying propaganda" sets the context for his analysis in Wotan, and could hardly have endeared him to Nazis, except when like Brask they feel happy to totally distort his real views.  Jung's close association with Freud set him in the camp of cultural Bolshevism and the "Jewish Science" of psychoanalysis as far as crude Nazi ideology was concerned.  

 

His broad theme in Wotan is that Nazism was utterly irrational, in opposition to efforts to provide rational explanations for it.  Against that hypothesis, looking to deep emotional cultural roots of a modern irrational ideology in mythological traditions is a perfectly reasonable method of analysis, at least as part of the puzzle.  Modernist opposition to Jung has a visceral emotional revulsion toward that method though, rejecting out of hand all notions of the spiritual, the mystical and the mythological as steps on the slippery slope toward fascism and irrationality.  That is the only way I can explain the gross distortions in Brask's analysis.  I am happy to expand on this critique if anyone is interested, as I see it as an important example of the cultural abyss surrounding analysis of religion.

 

I found a free copy of the second link, by Carrie Dohe, and look forward to reading it.

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