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Marilynn Lawrence

Marilynn Lawrence teaches philosophy outside of Philadelphia and works as a UX content strategist. She has a BA in psychology from Pennsylvania State University and an MA in Philosophy from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her main research interests have included Neoplatonism, ancient metaphysics, ecstatic naturalism, phenomenology (particularly Heideggerian), and aesthetics. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies, where she has organized and co-organized panels on a variety of topics that intersect Platonism with other concepts and schools of thought (Stoicism, aesthetics, psychoanalysis) or which delve deeper into neoplatonic metaphysics (fate, providence, chance). Her work on Neoplatonism and middle Platonism is featured in a number of anthologies such as Metaphysical Patterns in Platonism (2007), Perspectives sur le néoplatonisme (2009), Conversations Platonic and Neoplatonic (2011), The Neoplatonic Socrates (2014), and Platonic Pathways (2018). She has also presented at a number of congresses on ecstatic naturalism at Drew University, and recently co-edited an anthology published by Lexington Books called Nature’s Transcendence and Immanence (2017). She also contributed an essay on ecstatic naturalist ecology to an anthology called Deep Philosophy, Deep Ecology (2018). Marilynn is also a visual artist and her oil and watercolor paintings have been displayed in gallery shows in Philadelphia in the past few years. Some of her paintings can be seen on her website at marilynnlawrence.com.

Jung-ing Responsibly in Postmodern Times

Abstract

C.G. Jung has always been at the margins of academic psychology, while the practices and therapy based on his work, like that of other forms of psychoanalysis, are typically only available to a wealthy elite. On the academic front, Jungian theory is attacked from at least two sides: from the postmodern critique of elements of psychoanalysis that are essentialist and modernist, and from the skeptical criticism of Jung’s so-called ‘mystical’ elements based on his explorations of alchemy, Gnosticism, and eastern religions.

Because J. Peterson is influenced by Jung and has been popularizing certain Jungian concepts with his base of supporters, it is timely to re-examine aspects of this psychology to critique it and nullify the perpetuation of its worst aspects. It is notable that contemporary Jungian analysts (self-labeled post-Jungians) have adapted the theories to post-modern ideas about discourse, the self and identity, and social and collective concerns rather than isolated individual issues. Regardless of how elements of depth psychology have been oversimplified and abused, Peterson’s repopularization of it contributes to his appeal, given the hunger for personal guidance in a time of great social change, and pluralistic values and beliefs. So it’s critical to identify the empty caricatures, metanarratives, and narrow interpretations of analytic psychology’s concepts and practice, while giving space for the more adaptable and sensitive post-Jungian and postmodern practices to flourish.

Postmodern Jungians still retain the importance of the unconscious and of images, as well as of certain archetypes, though deconstructed and reimagined. For example, feminist Jungians such as Verena Kast have identified historical changes in the concept of anima and animus within Jung’s own work as well as among later analysts and researchers up to present day, and finds the revised gender-independent understanding of anima-animus useful for insight into complexes and relationships. Some analysts throw aside the parts of Jung’s theories that were shaped by his own prejudices and shadow; and some, such as Christopher Hauke, see aspects of Jung’s work that actually helped usher in a postmodernity, particularly given the influence from and parallel with Nietzsche’s critique of modernity.

This presentation will provide examples of contemporary post-Jungian positions on the topics of self and society, as well as the gendering of the archetypes of anima and animus, in order to reappropriate the best of Jung rather than leave in the clutches of social conservatism.