Jung on Schiller 2

Jung identifies Schiller as a representative of “the psychology of the introverted thinking type”.  He then asks the reader:

to remember that the hypothesis I have just advanced underlies my whole argument. This reminder seems to me necessary because Schiller approaches the problem from the angle of his own inner experience. In view of the fact that another psychology, i.e., another type of man, would have approached the same problem in quite another way, the very broad formulation which Schiller gives might be regarded as a subjective bias or an ill-considered generalization. But such a judgment would be incorrect, since there actually is a large class of men for whom the problem of the separated functions [in this configuration] is exactly the same as it was for Schiller. If, therefore, in the ensuing argument I occasionally emphasize Schiller’s one-sidedness and subjectivity, I do not wish to detract from the importance and general validity of the problem he has raised, but rather to make room for other formulations. Such criticisms as I may occasionally offer have more the character of a transcription into another language which will relieve Schiller’s formulation of its subjective limitations. (CW6, 69)

Several points in this passage are of great importance.

First, Jung notes that the identification of a certain type “underlies my whole argument”.  Just as in chemistry in the realm of material being, so analysis of any sample in the realm of psychology/experience/human being (understood verbally) must begin with the identification of its elementary type or compound types. It is this identification which brings the analysis (so to say) ‘into science’. On this basis, other scientists can know what kind of stuff is at stake (or claimed to be at stake) and how investigation of the sample can be expected to relate to other work in the field. What Kuhn called ‘normal science’ can begin. This is collective work done on the basis of a properly assumed “general validity”.1

Second, although the notion of elementary types underlying all  experience seems, as Jung says, to limit it in advance to some or other variety of  “subjective bias”, this “bias” itself now becomes subject to open collective research. And once “bias” itself becomes subject to research on the basis of an acknowledged classification, the relativity of all possible human being (verbal) ceases to be disabling and becomes instead the very source of a whole new sort of knowledge concerning humans and their universe.2 Relativity becomes an illuminating object of study instead of its disabling subject.

Third, types of human being (verbal) themselves make sense only within a certain “species” (Schiller) or table or spectrum. A type is inherently one unit of a collective — McLuhan’s cliché. This is what is at stake in Jung’s requirement of “a transcription into another language which will relieve Schiller’s formulation of its subjective limitations.” In chemistry, an elementary type is one expression of the general series formulated in Mendeleev’s table.  The table represents a formula which can be expressed over a defined range (EnPn, say, where ‘n’ represents some matching number of electrons and protons from 1 to 118). What makes any specification of type in chemistry true, in the end, is its anchorage in the general table. Because it is true, so also are its expressions. Similarly, in regard to human being (verbal), its various types must be anchored in the range of a general formula representing the basic truth of the field.

Fourth, Jung notes that “another psychology” amounts to “another type of (hu)man”. This applies as much to the ‘same individual’ as it does to family, social and national groups. The implication is that there is something to human being (verbal) that is deeper than psychological type, something that permits ‘identity’ across types even when those types are ‘elementary’. This medium below fundamental types has critical implications for morals (since as grounded on this medium there is nothing human that is ultimately foreign to me) and for ontology (since this medium must be).

Fifth, just as important as what Jung says in this passage is what he does not say — what remains unspoken. Namely, that the types of human being (verbal) are its ‘basic truth’ — its being.  This at once introduces a new way to interrogate types and to assess their “general validity”, for ontology has powerful laws of its own. Considered ontologically, Jung’s types remain subjective and hence defective in a way that Schiller’s do not. This is a decided limitation in a series of ways to be explored elsewhere.  Suffice it to note here only that the world now clings to a precipice defined by its nihilism — by a suffocating subjectivity that explodes all value and truth and ends by imploding itself.  And perhaps the world along with it. The specification of the types of human being (verbal) may represent the one way out of this dead end.


  1. In science, “general validity” is, of course, questionable. But this is rarely done and, even less rarely, successfully done. In any case, the questionability of basic propositions is an aspect of science and does not at all contradict its possibility.
  2. Since the physical sciences are examples of human being (verbal), the study of the types of human being introduces a new way to address problems in physics and, in fact, in all the physical sciences.