Hilla Johanna Sopanen
Track: New Horizons in Science and Cosmology
Liberation of Psyche through Old Metaphysics; 'Eastern' parallels in the work of Whitehead and Jung
The relationship between the development of Western psychology and the arrival of ‘Eastern’ philosophies to the West is a phenomenon that began at the turn of 19th and 20th centuries. Carl Gustav Jung, a psychoanalyst, author and a mystic well known for his work with Freud, and for his groundbreaking approach to human psyche as a collective entity was convinced that what he referred to as ‘Eastern consciousness’ developed thousands of years ago a quality that ‘Western’ psyche was only now arriving at. Philosopher and a mathematician Alfred North Whitehead’s ‘organic philosophy of nature’ offers an alternative for scientific materialism. His ontology is governed by concepts such as constant change, intuition and creativity. Whitehead criticized the notion of matter and mind as separates arguing that: "we should conceive mental operations as among the factors which make up the constitution of nature." Despite his credibility in natural sciences and philosophy, his ideas have not yet been integrated into psychology. The scope of this essay is to explore the parallels in Jung’s and Whitehead’s thinking, and see to what degree their ideas have been influenced or can be paralleled to ‘Eastern Wisdom’.
Whitehead’s ontology has the potential to provide systematic scientific theory for Jung’s depth psychology. A combination of their wisdom provides intuitive and imaginative, yet logical understanding of nature, bringing forth esoteric interpretation of the relationship between psychology, religion and science.
Author is a Master student in the department of Theology and Religious studies at the University of Groningen, currently finishing M.Sc. in Gnosticism, Esotericism and Mysticism. They are very interested in the ways in which psychedelic experience relates to religious phenomenology, mysticism and esotericism. Previously having completed B.Sc. in Psychology the author is drawn to interdisciplinary modes of thought, as well as emerging opportunities that lie in therapeutic work. Their article ‘Tripping Rabbis; Impact of Psychedelic Consciousness in the revival of Jewish Mystical Tradition during the 1960s Counterculture Movement’ was published in the Psychedelic Press UK in June 2017. While living in the Netherlands they have become associated with OPEN Foundation, and were part of organizing Interdisciplinary Conference on Psychedelic Research in Amsterdam in 2016. This summer they had the opportunity to work at harm reduction service Cosmic Care also organized by Open Foundation. Shortly after the conference they will move to Argentina to carry out an internship at Fundacion Vocacion Humana, a psychological institute specialized in Jungian thought.