“What we call “psychology” today is a science that can be pursued only on the basis of certain historical and moral premises laid down by Christian education in the last two thousand years. A saying like “Judge not that ye be not judged,” inculcated by religion, has created the possibility of a will which strives, in the last resort, for simple objectivity of judgment.” — Carl Jung.
It was not that long ago (maybe an hour in the life of a modern mind?) from the standpoint of the ‘million year old man‘ that consciousness was able to speculate an idea of objectivity. From that perspective, it was only a few minutes ago that it yielded the facts of subjective development sufficient to distinguish it; though the search for objective truth still doesn’t account for it.
Jung expressed the problem philosophically in terms of ideas having “reality-significance”. We know that an objective reality exists, but consciousness can only infer it. His ‘subjective factor’ describes unconscious processes that the will to objective judgment has yet to address: “the necessary condition under which all thinking takes place.”
Let’s follow these empirical psychic facts back in time an hour or so (from the million year old man’s perspective) and look at some ideas contemporary with the logic which birthed the scientific method. They have reality-significance, but of a different kind than science fancies.
(From, Figures of Earth, the re-telling of a medieval folk-tale by James Branch Cabell in 1919, concerning ‘Manuel the Redeemer’, a folk-analogy of Christ: the unconscious, intuitive side of the collective value-judgments of the time. This conversation is between Manuel and the ‘Fire-Bird’, Zhar-Ptitza, a spirit-figure beyond the sensual ‘clay figures’ Manuel has fashioned from the conventional religious ideas that form his conflict.)
“The frivolous question that Manuel raised as to his clay figures, the Zhar-Ptitza considered a very human bit of nonsense: and the wise creature… felt forced to point out that no intelligent bird would ever dream of making images.
“But, sir,” said Manuel, “I do not wish to burden this world with any more lifeless images. Instead, I wish to make… an animated figure, very much as, they say, a god did once upon a time — “
“… you should not try to put too much responsibility on Jahveh,” protested the Zhar-Ptitza… “for Jahveh made only one man, and did not ever do it again. I remember the making of that one man very clearly, for I was created the morning before, with instructions to fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven, so I saw the whole affair. Yes, Jahveh did create the first man on the sixth day. And I voiced no criticism. For of course after working continuously for nearly a whole week… no creative artist should be blamed for not being in the happiest vein on the sixth day.”
“Well, well, I do not assert that the making of men is the highest form of art, yet, none the less, a geas is upon me to make of myself a very splendid and admirable young man.”
“… To what permanent use could one put a human being even if the creature were virtuous and handsome to look at? Ah, Manuel, you have not seen them pass as I have seen them pass… in swarms, with their wars and their reforms and their great causes, and leaving nothing but their bones behind them.”
“Yes, yes, to you, at your age, who were old when Ninevah was planned, it must seem strange; and I do not know why my mother desired I should make myself a splendid and admirable young man. But the geas is upon me.”
It may be today that these questions are more styled by biology, genetics, or evolutionary anthropology, but the ‘geas’ of Manuel is the psychic urge of an instinctual nature that proscribes its own laws irrespective of clime, culture, or common sense …
“The Zhar-Ptitza sighed. “Certainly these feminine whims are not easily explained. Yet your people have some way of making brand-new men and women of all kinds… otherwise the race would have been extinct a great while since at the rate they kill one another. And perhaps they do adhere to Jahveh’s method, and make fresh human beings out of earth, for… I have seen the small, recently completed ones, who look exactly like red clay.”
“It is undeniable that babies do have something of that look,” assented Manuel. “So then… do you think I may be working in the proper medium?”
“It seems plausible, because I am certain your people are not intelligent enough to lay eggs, nor could, of course, such an impatient race succeed in getting eggs hatched. At all events, they have undoubtedly contrived some method or other, and you might find out from the least foolish of them about that method.”
“Who, then, is the least foolish of mankind?”
“Probably King Helmas of Albania, for it was prophesied by me a great while ago that he would become the wisest of men if ever he could come by one of my shining white feathers, and I hear it reported he has done so.”
“Sir,” said Manuel dubiously, “I must tell you in confidence that the feather King Helmas has is not yours, but was plucked from the wing of an ordinary goose.”
“Does that matter?” asked the Zhar-Ptitza. “I never prophesied, of course, that he actually would find one of my shining white feathers…”
“But how can there be any magic in a goose feather?”
“There is this magic, that, possessing it, King Helmas has faith in it, and has stopped bothering about himself.”
“Is not to bother about yourself the highest wisdom?”
“Oh, no… I merely said that it is the highest of which man is capable.”