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Mysterium Coniunctionis

In my old age I have been lately trying to come to grips with the basics of Carl Jung's Mysterium Coniunctionis, without great success I might add. This is considered by many to be Jung's master work. In it he reviews the vast literature of Medieval, Renaissance, and post-Renaissance alchemy and finds it has much to offer modern psychology. The "conjunction" refers to a resolution of conflict between dualities (male/female, spirit/matter, solar/lunar, good/evil, knowledge/faith) that define human beings.

As regards religion his psychology emphasizes the human quest for wholeness (the integration of conscious and unconscious). "Our age", he says, "wants to experience the psyche itself ... knowledge, instead of faith."


The Jungian approach has always made a great deal more sense to me than that of Freud.

On most things Freud is just plain wrong while Jung has always been able to make me say: 'Yes! But why can't the other 'experts' see it?'

Edited at 2013-02-27 17:05 (UTC)
My acquaintance with either is very basic I'm afraid but I feel I would benefit from even a little knowledge of their works.
As they say, 'no knowledge acquired is ever wasted' (although I can't now remember who said it! :o)
i gave up on jung after that one. dualism is very fashionable; it requires only black and white. if you believe in shades of grey, or possibly the rainbow, it doesn't work out so well :/
It's been a long time since I read Jung, so won't comment on him. However "black and white" the poles, the blending of which create shades of gray. As for rainbows, the pure colors are pure (as are black or white) but real colors are also blends, including blending in black or white.

Edited at 2013-02-27 20:11 (UTC)
. it's a metaphor, dude.

. if ya wanna get supertechnical about it, white is the blending of multiple colors of light (doesn't need to be all, but it can, & a certain level of variance is requisite), and black is the absence of any.
I know it's a metaphor, dudess (dudette? Whatever the feminine form is). I was metaphoring back.
i'm afraid i failed to follow it.
Sorry for the delay in answering, didn't have connectivity.

My point was that it is fine and well to say that things are all "shades of gray," but metaphorically as well as color mix* that is defined by how much of the black and whitae yoy have, or how far from those as defined opposite poles. One never is actually at those poles, but they are still reference points and have to be understood as such.

I often have two further problem with some people who insist on the "it's all shades of gray" concept. (I am NOT saying you are one of those people, I don't know you; I am making a general statement of what I've observed.) (1) Many people just use that as an excuse to be mentally lazy. If they just say everything is gray, they don't have to sort through real world choices. They can sound sophisticated and knowing, when really they are lazy and ignorant. (2) The pseudo-intellectual approach that if "they" aren't all black/bad, then they are really okay, whereas because "we" aren't pure white/good, we're really bad. It's really another form of the same thing, but even less honest intellectually.

One has to accept that everything is "gray," but in the real world, there are real world choices to be made.

*Thanks for the optics lesson, but I was referring to mixing paint, not light rays.
my main point is that i think jung's dualism is mistaken, in that it doesn't describe either phenomena or even cognition very convincingly.
male and female are not like night and day; they're more like six minutes to three and three-fifteen, for instance. and even little kids playing question games know to ask "animal, vegetable, or mineral?" and we can deal with that threesome, even if we do have to do some weird cramming to cope with phenomena like "mushroom" or "space" or "hebrew".

jung really, really dug dualism. i was reading him as an undergrad, at the same time i was in the psychohormonal research unit at hopkins hospital, noting that there were wide variations and assorted variations of sex chromosomes, prenatal hormones, fetal reproductive-structure statuses (fetuses start with external genitalia that look feminine, and the precursor structures for both masculine and feminine gonads), gender assignment at birth, gender identity and role, and gender presentation. the "men are day, women are night" thing in jung totally failed to encompass the reality of the actual patients we routinely had. being a data-driven sort, i went on to other philosophers (karl popper was an unsurprising favorite of mine from around then).
That you are still seeking and learning is a success in itself. I'm always impressed by you.
Thank you.
I am a big fan of Jung, however he was writing in an earlier time. I think the key to understanding Jung is the symbol of Yin/Yang. There is always a spot of Dark within the Light, and vice-versa. Also, Darkness and Light are in continuum with one another.

However, it is important to note that "Dark" is NOT synonymous with "Evil," although it can be used to represent it. Light & Dark can be used to symbolize any duality... Male/Female, for example. But, too, no matter what you use the metaphor to symbolize, both dualities are parts of the whole, and neither can exist without the other.
Thank you. Can anyone recommend a simple "Jung for Dummies?"
I suspect that very title will be on the shelves somewhere right now! I've certainly run across 'Freud for dummies':o)