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 Post subject: Questions regarding "participation mystique"
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 2:24 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:56 pm
Posts: 31
Let me first thank the moderator for his interesting posts on Levy-Bruhl. I just came into contact with Levy-Bruhl in "Psyche & Symbol" by Jung and am trying to wrap my mind around Jung's interpretation of "participation mystique," which I didn't see mentioned in the other posts on the mentality of pre-literate peoples.

On p339, in a section titled "The Detachment of Consciousness from the Object," Jung writes the following:

"This detachment is something I am familiar with in my practice; it is the therapeutic effect par excellence for which I labor with my students and patients, that is, the dissolution of participation mystique. With a stroke of genius, Levy-Bruhl has established participation mystique as being the hall-mark of primitive mentality. As described by him it is simply the indefinitely large remnant of nondifferentiation between subject and object, still so great among primitives that it cannot fail to strike European man, identified as he is with the conscious standpoint. In so far as the difference between subject and object does not become conscious, unconscious identity prevails. The unconscious is projected into the object, and the object is introjected into the subject, that is, psychologized. Then plants and animals behave like men; men are at the same time themselves and animals also, and everything is alive with ghosts and gods."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participation_mystique
According to the above wiki on this subject, Levy-Bruhl recanted his theory of mystical participation. Has this concept, and Levy-Bruhl's work generally, been swept out of the mainstream, though it apparently has influenced a lot of subsequent thinkers, Jaynes included? Or is Levy-Bruhl's work still highly praised and respected in his field?

Has anyone written anything comparing Jaynes to Jung? It seems both regarded mental illness as a remnant from a more primitive mentality, instead of simply the results of repression or early trauma, etc. However, I don't remember Origins discussing subject and object explicitly. Am I mistaken in seeing a strong correlation between Jung/Bruhl and Jaynes here? Would Jaynes agree with Jung's statement regarding participation mystique, and add that what these people were lacking was a metaphorical space wherein the projections of the unconscious could be "contained" and thus allow for a separation of subject from object?


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