Jung on Schiller 1

Jung’s long commentary on Schiller’s Aesthetic Letters (in CW6, 67-135) is valuable for an assessment of both — and of their relative contributions to an understanding of the drame intérieur. 

Schiller belongs to the introverted type (…) Because of this identification, an inevitable limitation is imposed on his formulations, a fact we must never lose sight of if we wish to gain a fuller understanding [of psychological types and their interactions]. It is owing to this limitation that the one function is presented by Schiller in richer outline than the other, which is still imperfectly developed in the introvert, and just because of its imperfect development it must necessarily have certain inferior characteristics attached to it. At this point the author’s exposition requires our criticism and correction. It is evident, too, that this limitation of Schiller’s impelled him to use a terminology which lacks general applicability [allgemeiner Verwendbarkeit]. (CW6, 68)

Jung has put his finger on a series of critical points here:1 

  • any attempt to specify the types and dynamics of the drame intérieur must account for its own type and for the solution it brings forward, implicitly or explicitly, to the self-reference inherent in this requirement
  • the demand for “general applicability” cannot be gainsaid. A fitting beginning to the investigation of the interior landscape can be made only when anyone following explicit rules can identify the type or types at play in any given sample (just as chemistry was finally initiated when the rules governing the identification of its elements became defined in the course of the nineteenth century)
  • at the same time the demand for “general applicability” implies that any sample of psychological activity whatsoever be subject to the suggested analysis (just as chemistry would not be chemistry if some material samples were excluded from its analysis)
  • further, “general applicability” applies to time and space. There can be no time or space in which the analysis has not, is not and will not be applicable.

These requirements stand before a new science of human being (verbal), or sciences, both as hurdles and as path markers.

  1. It is another question how far Jung himself met the requirements set out by him for the specification of psychological types. His typology is notoriously complicated and hardly unambiguous even as deployed by Jung himself. However, to make a decisive contribution to the rigorous investigation of the drame intérieur it is not necessary to solve all of its difficulties at once. It is enough to shed further light on some area of great potential importance.