The Soul’s Logical Life

Towards a Rigorous Notion of Psychology

by Wolfgang Giegerich (Author)
©2020 Monographs 294 Pages


C. G. Jung’s psychology was based on an authentic notion of soul, but this notion was only intuitive, implicit, not conceptually worked out. His followers forfeit his heritage, often turning psychology either into pop psychology or into a scientific, clinical enterprise. It is the merit of James Hillman’s archetypal psychology to have brought back the question of soul to psychology. But as imaginal psychology it cannot truly overcome psychology’s positivistic, personalistic bias that it set out to overcome. Its «Gods» can be shown to be virtual-reality type gods because it avoids the question of Truth. Through what logically is the movement of an «absolute-negative interiorization», alchemically a «fermenting corruption», and mythologically a Dionysian dismemberment, one has to go beyond the imaginal to a notion of soul as logical life, logical movement. Only then can psychology be freed from its positivism and cease being a subdivision of anthropology, and can the notion of soul be logically released from its attachment to the notion of the human being.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • 1. “No Admission!”
  • The Entrance into Psychology and the Style of Psychological Discourse
  • a) The “who” of psychological discourse
  • b) The “how” of psychological discourse
  • c) The “what” of psychological discourse.
  • 2. Why JUNG?
  • a) The Notion of soul
  • b) The thinker.
  • c) Implicit vs. explicit thought.
  • d) The name, “JUNG,” as abbreviation for a body of thought
  • e) The advantage of implicit thought.
  • 3. JUNG: Rootedness in the Notion
  • a) The cat that is not a cat
  • b) From fiery liquid lava to crystallized stone.
  • c) Sublated science, sublated religion, sublated medicine
  • d) Facing “the whole”
  • e) The question of the age, the great riddle, the burden of the mind
  • 4. Jungians: Immunity to the Notion and the Forfeit Heritage
  • a) Polemic against the general state of affairs in today’s conventional Jungianism
  • b) The Notionless conception of psychology
  • 1. The miscellaneous aggregation of observations and ideas
  • 2. Neutralization
  • 3. The “eccentricity” of one’s standpoint.
  • 4. The eclecticistic fantasy of completeness
  • 5. Archetypal Psychology or: Critique of the Imaginal Approach
  • a) The idea of “the human being who has such and such a consciousness”
  • b) Four presuppositions of truly psychological myth interpretation.
  • 1. The “allegorical” presupposition of myth interpretation
  • 2. Excursus: Domesticated wilderness and pre-existence
  • 3. The “tautological” presupposition of myth interpretation
  • 4. Excursus: Is psychology the account we give of the soul’s life or the account we give of “people’s psychologies”?
  • 5. The presupposition of the “self-sufficiency” of myths and fantasy images.
  • 6. The presupposition of the difference between the “subjective” and the “objective” (“archetypal”) meaning of mythical images.
  • c) Dissociation
  • d) Empty duplication
  • e) Imaginal psychology as ego-psychology.
  • f) Excursus: Alchemy’s opus contra imaginationem.
  • 1. The negated and reflected image
  • 2. The artifex: awareness of the subjectivity and the logical dimension of psychological reality
  • 3. The compelling drive for an end-result
  • 4. The chemistry of matter
  • 5. The sought-for substances as the projected logical form.
  • 6. Psychologism: JUNG’s regressive interpretation of alchemy.
  • 7. The mystification of the alchemical mystery
  • g) The inherent duplicity of the imaginal
  • h) “Likeness”: the false sense of continuity
  • 1. Myth, the Gods or: abstract forms
  • 2. Our afflictions or: psychological antiques
  • 3. The relation of “resemblances” or: “the simple act of matching”.
  • i) The “middle ground” or: stop-gap and hideout
  • j) Sublating psychology versus re-visioning psychology
  • 6. Actaion and Artemis: The Pictorial Representation of the Notion and the (Psycho-) Logical Interpretation of the Myth
  • First determination: The hunter or: intentionality towards the Other.
  • Second determination: The primal forest or: self-exposure to Otherness.
  • Fourth determination: The epiphany of naked Artemis or: the revelation of the Other’s innermost truth
  • Third determination: The identity of kill and epiphany or: comprehending the Other
  • Fifth determination: Transformation or: comprehending one’s identity with the Other (= having been comprehended by the Other)
  • Sixth determination: Dismemberment or: the dissolution of Self (hunter) and Other (game) into Otherness as such (the Notion of the hunt/psychology)
  • 7. Concluding Questions
  • References.
  • Index

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There is an Old Icelandic saga about a young man who was a stay-at-home. His mother could not stand this and tried to rouse him with biting remarks. Finally she was successful. The young man got up from behind the stove where he had been sitting and, taking his spear, left the house. Outside, he threw his spear as far as he could and then ran up to the place where it had landed in order to retrieve it. At this new point, he again threw the spear as far ahead as possible and then followed it, and so on. In this way, with these literal “projections” that he then had to catch up with, he made a way for himself from the comfort of home into the outside world.1

In writing the present book, I am following the procedure of this young man. This book has a twofold objective. It tries to prepare the way for a rigorous notion of psychology and at the same time it makes a case for the (perhaps surprising) idea that the soul’s life is at bottom logical life. As the close relation of “notion” and “logic” may indicate, what appears to be two separate purposes is really only two sides of one single objective. In this century, the psyche has above all been understood as sexual libido, as desire, emotion, feeling, and so on. There has also been the idea that soul is image. The thesis propounded here, that the soul is at bottom logical life or thought, is immediately open to all sorts of misunderstandings and feeling-toned prejudices. It is the purpose of this book to elucidate how this thesis has to be understood. May it suffice at this point, in this preface, to give the reader the probably baffling hint that it is the thesis of the soul as logical life that can at long last redeem the promise of alchemical psychology and do justice to the Dionysian as a psychological concept.

Our time in history and the incredible problems that we face are such that we cannot afford not to advance to the insight that the innermost nature of soul is logical (is thought) and not to advance to a rigorous notion of psychology. As C.G. JUNG said, the real problem will be from now on until a dim future a psychological one,2 a statement that makes only sense if psychology is comprehended to be a discipline of thought proper, and if the illusion is overcome that its actual subject matter ought to be no more than what is going on inside people...

In making a way for the realization of this twofold project, I throw my spear far ahead from where I am. I boldly make assertions and set up standards without worrying for the time being about whether I can match them myself or will ever be able to match them. If psychology is to leave the cozy confines of its present home and move out and reach the real world of the soul, there is probably no other ←9 | 10→way than to work with such literal “projections.” But as I showed in a paper years ago,3 projections exist for the purpose of running or jumping after them in order to catch up with them. Just as when building a house the blueprint comes first, so here the projection comes first; it is only the first half of the whole project (and this book is intended to be no more than this first half). Only then does the question arise whether I am, or any reader is, able to master the second half, too, by backing the projection up and filling it with real life. The answer to this question falls outside the scope of this book.

It follows from the nature of my project that I sometimes have to level severe criticisms at the address of present psychology. To pull the stay-at-home, psychology, away from the home in which it seems to have taken roots, it has to be relentlessly confronted with its faults. But I beg the reader to take note that my charges do not have the form of “all psychologists do this or that.” I am not talking about individual psychologists and not about all of them collectively. I am exposing and discussing a poor or false kind of psychology, in order to be able to develop the notion of a better kind of psychology. All criticism, therefore, is directed on the notional, not personal, level against certain conceptions and general ways of looking at things, or against what one might call an “ideal type” (in the sense of Max WEBER) of bad psychology. The question of who in fact thinks this way (or how many do) is of no interest here. And even where I cite specific names of psychological authors, they are used only by way of concrete example for a certain type of thinking, and in order to help psychology to come into its own by pushing off from this inadequate type of thinking. They are not in themselves a target. With statements about “the psychologists,” “the Jungians” etc. I do of course not claim to know what every member of the respective group thinks or does. This form of sentence is about general trends that can indeed be observed, but any psychologist, any reader must decide for himself if, and possibly how, he has any part in this trend or not.

For the young man in the saga, things were straightforward. He was the stay-at-home and he had to move out into the world. Starting point and goal, home and world, were unambiguous opposites. Psychology is in a much more complicated situation. To be sure, I called psychology a stay-at-home, too. But it is a stay-at-home precisely because it has not come home to itself. It prefers to stay in exile, feeling truly at home in the very alienation from itself. However, this does not mean that its task would simply be a movement in the opposite direction, from the world out there to its home. Psychology is that weird discipline that as the stay-at-home that it is has to move out into the world and come in touch with the reality of life, but for whom the very move out has to take the form of an unconditional interiorization into itself; and for whom this interiorization has to amount to a full-←10 | 11→fledged move to the reality of life, and not be merely a withdrawal into a literal interiority. Psychology has to live with and within these contradictions. They are both its plight and its distinction, and it will be the task of the following discourse to find a way into them.

The course of my reflections proceeds in concentric circles, as it were. The first chapter raises the question of the relation between everyday consciousness and psychological consciousness. How can one get from the one to the other? The second chapter tries to show why it has to be, more or less exclusively, JUNG from among all the many important psychologists of this century and all the various psychological schools that must be the base and starting point for our search for a rigorous notion of psychology. What follows in the next three chapters is a critical assessment of first JUNG’s, then conventional Jungianism’s and finally archetypal psychology’s relevance for a strict notion of psychology. It will turn out that these three stages mentioned cannot be thought of in terms of a linear ascent from a base via an intermediate state to a summit. Rather, the state-of-affairs of conventional Jungianism seems to be a regression far behind the achievement of JUNG, while archetypal psychology is again a great advance, but is nonetheless in need of a radical criticism (with respect to its imaginal bias). To arrive at a rigorous concept of psychology we have to go beyond the imaginal. The last main chapter is devoted to the exposition of the Notion of psychology (or at least an outline of such) by means of an extensive analysis of one particular myth, the story of Actaion and Artemis.

Some of the ideas in this book were first presented to the participants of the yearly seminars I conduct for Japanese graduate students in psychology and professional therapists, who were a receptive audience. I dedicate this book to them and to my friend Toshio KAWAI, professor at Kyoto University, who initiated and organizes these seminars. I am grateful to him for a stimulating exchange of ideas and for his continued encouragement to complete the work on this text.


For the fifth edition a few minor errata have been corrected. Also, in cases where English versions of referenced German papers or books of mine have meanwhile become available, relevant bibliographical information has been included. The main change, however, is the addition of a detailed index. Some effort has been made to provide in it not only references to keywords, but also to essential ideas discussed in The Soul’s Logical Life.

WG, June 2019

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1 Grönländer und Färinger Geschichten, Thule, vol. 13, Düsseldorf 1965, p. 143. I became aware of this episode from Heino GEHRTS, “Vom Wesen des Speeres,” in: Hestia 1984/85, Bonn (Bouvier) 1985, pp. 71-103, esp. p. 73 with note 7 on p. 100.

2 C.G. JUNG, Letters 2, p. 498, to Werner BRUECHER, 12 April 1959.

3 W. GIEGERICH, “Der Sprung nach dem Wurf. Über das Einholen der Projektion und den Ursprung der Psychologie,” in: GORGO 1/1979, pp. 49-71. English in: CEP 1, ch. 3.

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1. “No Admission!”

The Entrance into Psychology and the Style of Psychological Discourse

... that I could not confine myself to generally understandable material.


In the summer of 1909, Albert EINSTEIN received an invitation from a science publisher to write a book about the revolutions brought about in physics by the theory of relativity. EINSTEIN declined. The reason he gave was, “I cannot imagine how one can make this matter accessible to wider circles. To understand it, a certain degree of training in abstract thinking is indispensable, which most people do not acquire because they have no need for it.”5 The justification for such misgivings will be readily evident to, and accepted by, everybody. There can be no doubt that in order to understand modern physics, let alone to be able to join in the discussion of its problems, one has to meet certain requirements that most of us do not fulfill. We know and accept that we are not up to that level of thought that would allow us to be at par with the questions physics struggles with today. When later in his life EINSTEIN changed his mind and did write introductions to the new ideas of physics for a wider audience after all, those texts had the explicit character of popularizations. The validity of his earlier argument was not affected. To really understand those matters, a certain degree of training in abstract thinking remains indispensable. And when EINSTEIN or other physicists want(ed) to be really understood, they wrote and still write for their own peers (i.e., not for everybody) and in a fashion that for “most people” is incomprehensible.

Isn’t it amazing that there is no equivalent in (therapeutic) psychology to this difference between popularizations and works meant for the professional, no difference between what has been consciously watered down and simplified, on the one hand, and what expresses the state-of-the-art insights of the field in adequate form, on the other? Reacting to the reproach that in his writings he presented unknown or not easily accessible experiences, JUNG said, “It is a remarkable fact, which we come across again and again, that absolutely everybody, even the most ←13 | 14→unqualified layman, thinks he knows all about psychology as though the psyche were something that enjoyed the most universal understanding.”6

Of course, psychology and physics are not alike, and one could not expect the same kind of prerequisites in both fields. In order to work in psychology, one certainly does not necessarily need training in higher mathematics and in the kind of abstract thinking demanded in physics. But no prerequisites at all? No need for some kind of training in rigorous thought? Does that make sense?

Psychology7 books are written precisely for “most people.” Anyone who can read a daily newspaper can read most of what is published in psychology. There is no real difference between works for the specialist and works for laypersons. And there is also no real difference between psychological works written by specialists and those written by laypersons. Both can be equally intelligent or equally shallow and stupid. Of course, there are all sorts of formal and institutional regulations by means of which psychologists today want to give their field and the people working in this field a semblance of professional and academic respectability; the number of hours of professional training in psychology are being increased, for theoretical and practical training as well as for personal training analysis; rigorous codes of ethics and “total quality management” procedures are established to ensure high ethical and professional standards; studies to “prove” (empirically verify) the effectiveness of the tenets of each psychological school are meant to give the impression that psychology is a field that has the status of a full-fledged science. But all these organizational maneuvers do not change the internal form of psychology, namely the fact that Everyman is the addressee of its writings as well as the author of its views. Now, if the difference between the specialist’s level of thinking and writing and that of “most people” does not really exist in psychology, we must assume that even the books written by the specialist are written by that part or that consciousness in the specialist that is “layperson” and that he shares with “most people.” Psychology, so it seems, is at bottom pop psychology, regardless of whether it is intentionally and explicitly so or not, and regardless of by whom and for whom it is written. But if the writing, then also the thinking of psychologists must inevitably be “pop.”

One might think that psychology merely lapsed into this pop style. But far from it. This style is based on a principle. The underlying idea is that psychology should be for Everyman. It should be intelligible to the man in the street. Psychology, so the idea goes, must be democratic and exoteric; it should not be elitist and esoteric (in the authentic sense of the word). The popular character is intentional, and viewed not as a mistake, but a virtue. The underlying reason is that everybody has a soul, and therefore psychology must be understandable for Everyman.

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If the argument just presented were valid, one would also have to insist that there be no difference between popularizations and writings for the specialist in the fields of medicine, biochemistry, and physics, because everybody has a body subject to illnesses and to the laws of chemistry and physics. Here we can remember what HEGEL said about philosophy. It mutatis mutandis applies to psychology too. “In the case of all other sciences, arts, skills, and crafts, everyone is convinced that a complex and laborious programme of learning and practice is necessary for competence. Yet when it comes to philosophy, there seems to be a currently prevailing prejudice to the effect that, although not everyone who has eyes and fingers, and is given leather and last, is at once in a position to make shoes, everyone nevertheless immediately understands how to philosophize, and how to evaluate philosophy, since he possesses the criterion for doing so in his natural reason—as if he did not likewise possess the measure for a shoe in his foot.”8

So it is not only the subjective wish on the part of psychological writers for wide recognition and the financial success of their writings that eliminates the difference between popularizations and authentic presentations in psychology. It is the belief that the layman is expert by nature (by virtue of his having a soul), much as in Protestantism every layman is priest. There is also another, deeper principle behind this phenomenon, an unconscious motivation that ultimately can probably be traced back to Christian thinking. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden...,” “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”9: the word has to be spread, everyone has to be invited to partake of the insights of psychology, all have to be given a chance. Since psychology has a therapeutic task, the idea is that it is even obligated to try to reach all. Completely one-sidedly, invitation and divulgation are seen as the appropriate modes of psychological writing. The opposite principle, that of deterrence, has no place here.

We meet this other principle for example in KAFKA. In his parable “Before the Law,” a man from the country comes to a gatekeeper standing before the law and requests to be let in. But the gatekeeper tells him that he cannot be granted entrance now. The man from the country had not expected such difficulties, the text tells us; after all, the law should be accessible to everybody and always, he had thought. — In MOZART’s opera The Magic Flute Tamino approaches the door to the Temple of Wisdom only to be greeted by voices telling him, “Go back!” — Reportedly, above the entrance to PLATO’s Academy there was an inscription that read, “μηδεὶς ἀγεωμέτρητος εἰσίτω,” which we might loosely render, “No entry for non-mathematicians!” or, more generalized, “No admission for unqualified personnel!,” “Unqualified personnel keep out!”

←15 | 16→

In all three cases, the newcomers do not come as intruders with evil or inappropriate intentions. They are motivated by idealism. They want to acquire precisely what the institutions they have come to offer, wisdom and righteousness. But their idealism is not welcomed with open arms. It is offended, frustrated. There is a harsh rejection. No praise for a noble intention, no attempt to utilize their eagerness and to increase their motivation. No promises of free tuition and high positions later on.

We know of similar reactions from Zen masters or great master craftsmen in Eastern Asia to novices who come to be apprenticed to them. The first encounter often has the character of a “No!” Similarly, Asian temples meet the visitor with images of gruesome looking temple guards, often in the guise of threatening demons. Entering the temple requires one’s overcoming the narcissistic offense that such a greeting of one’s pious endeavors entails. In all these cases, one meets, as one might put it, with a policy of deterrence; there is a threshold; obstacles are being erected. JUNG, too, owned up to such a policy, when he wrote in a letter, “As a matter of fact it was my intention to write in such a way that fools get scared and only true scholars and seekers can enjoy its reading.”10 Interestingly enough, we find similar ideas in the Bible. One Christian idea corresponding to that of a threshold or obstacle is that of the narrow passageway (“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle...”). Another story, the parable of the royal wedding feast, shows that those who enter are not allowed to enter as the ordinary people that they were all along, but have to have undergone a radical change: “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment,” in other words who was still in his street clothes. “Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”11


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2020 (March)
Analytische Psychologie Jung, C. G. Religion
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 294 pp.

Biographical notes

Wolfgang Giegerich (Author)

The Author: Wolfgang Giegerich is a Jungian psychoanalyst in private practice near Munich. He has lectured internationally and is author of numerous books.


Title: The Soul’s Logical Life
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296 pages