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  • NOTE: This is a Google Translator version. Translation mistakes may be present in the text.

The archetypical fundamentals of the interrelation between

 religion, myth, psyche and society

                                                                                  Prof.  Dr. Daniel Wilhelm 

(Original article published in Relegens threskeia , v. 4, n. 1 (2015), Journal of Research and Studies of Religion Paranaense de Pesquisa em Core Religião - NUPPER / Universidade Federal do Parana, Brazil )


SUMMARY: In this paper carried out an analysis of the interrelations between religion, myth, psyche and society. The existence of common ground, of archetypal nature, evidenced through the perspective of analytical psychology of Carl G. Jung. The concepts of archetype and collective unconscious, allow trace and clarify the linkages between the conceptualization of collective representations of Emile Durkheim, the concept of participation mystique of Lucien Levy-Bruhl, and psychosocial phenomenological field of human archetypal dimension. Thus, shapes, structures and psychosocial functions of religion, myth, psyche and society are presented as emerging constituent elements of one and the same psycho-socio-evolutionary process.

Keywords: Religion, Myths, Archetypes, Psyche, Society

ABSTRACT: En the present Work, an analysis of the interrelationships Between Religion, myth, psyche and society, is Carried out. The existence of a common base, of archetypal nature, is put in evidence by Means of the perspective of the analytical psychology of Carl G. Jung. The concepts of archetype and collective unconscious, allow to determinate and to Clarify the linkages Existing Between the conceptualization of Emile Durkheim's collective representations, the notion of Lucien Lévy-Bruhl's mystical participation, and the psychosocial phenomenological field of the archetypal human dimension. Thus, the forms, structures and psychosocial functions of religion, myth, psyche and society, appear as the emergent constitutive elements of a unique and same psycho-socio-evolutive process.

Keywords: Religion, Myths, Archetypes, Psyche, Society


1           Introduction

Conceptualizations present in the analytical psychology of Carl G. Jung, have allowed to draw a set of relationships between different fields of knowledge. Its integrated perspective of the evolution and structure of the human psyche, made ​​it possible to clarify different points of contact between psychology, anthropology, sociology, comparative religion, mythology and other human sciences in general.

In particular, the introduction of the concepts of Jungian archetype and collective unconscious, possible revision and extension of the main anthropological and sociological theories, from which they have tried to explain many aspects concerning the evolutionary history of mankind, and their current reality.

On the other hand, the existence of a common substrate, of archetypal nature, can explain the links between collective representations, archetypes, the collective unconscious, the phenomenon of mystical participation, and broad psychosocial phenomenological field.

Thus, building a conceptual platform that facilitates the description, explanation and understanding of the most important aspects of psychological and social world is possible; both from a historical perspective, as of today. Thus, throughout this work, it carried out an analysis of the interrelations between religion, myth, psyche and society; as well as their shapes, structures and functions, involved and integrated, ultimately, in the same evolutionary process that is determinant of human psychological and social development.

2           The mystical participation as the basis of co-evolution between the psyche and the world

            Individual and society, or formulated in a psychological context, psyche and world, are not autonomous and separate entities, but between both a continuity; which leads to a series of interrelationships and interdeterminations, through which both spaces are constantly reconstructed through a succession of images, internalized and projected again and again, in the continuum of psycho-social dimension. Thus, the boundaries between the psyche and the world are permeable traffic images and content, so that the self-referentiality and heterorreferencialidad lead, a structurally intrinsically, a dimension speculate on the "inside" and "outside" they are merely conventions, which allow psychological control mechanisms I draw an imaginary representation of the world in a rational tone, which still decoding and logical-causal structure of "reality" is supposed possible.

The origin of the dialectical interaction of this evolutionary dynamism must be at the very beginning of humanity, as part of an early psychological mechanisms of identification between man and nature, Lucien Levy-Bruhl called law of participation or participation mystique . (Levy-Bruhl, 1947).

Among the immediate psychological phenomenological consequences of the law of participation should be mentioned primarily -in the suspension or modification to varying degrees of logical principles of reason, along with their traditional categories of time and space. Thus, under the mental influence of mystical participation, a subject, object or situation, they can simultaneously be and not be, being and not being, and so on. The conditions of perception are modified substantially; time and space are distorted, the ontology of the world and of the self become blurred, intertwining in a multitude of ways.

Consequently, according to Levy-Bruhl (1947), "primitive look with the same eyes as us but not perceived in the same spirit. Arguably, their perceptions are formed by a core surrounded by a more or less thick layer of representations of social origin "(Levy-Bruhl, 1947). And these "representations of social origin", which refers Levy-Bruhl, are collective representations, made ​​by Emile Durkheim (Durkheim, 2004) for the first time in 1893. On that basis, adding that Levy-Bruhl "they perceive the outside world that differs also from that we perceive. [...]. But it is necessary to consider what is included in each collective perceptions of their performances. "(Levy-Bruhl, 1947).

3           The importance of collective representations in the work of Emile Durkheim

            As mentioned, Emile Durkheim introduces the concept of "collective representation" [1] in 1893, in his book "The Division of Labour in Society" (Durkheim, 2004). However, it is in his work entitled "The individual representations and collective representations" (Durkheim, 1951) of 1898, which first made ​​a detailed analysis and differentiation of such representations. Subsequently, in 1912, the analysis and study of collective representations is extended in his work "The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life" (Durkheim, 1992).

Also, in his research on the social division of labor, Durkheim introduced for the first time with the idea of collective representation, the concept of collective consciousness. In relation to it, posits that "the set of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of the same society, is a particular system that has its own life, you may call the collective or common conscience." (Durkheim, 2004).

The introduction of this concept represents a pivotal moment in the sociology of Durkheim, marking a true starting point for the development of subsequent investigations, linked to collective representations. We found this way, between the main ideas of Durkheim, the fact that collective or common conscience is constituted mainly by collective representations; which leads to the result that, as formulated Durkheim, "social life was made, all of it, of representations" (Durkheim, 2003).

Importantly here, the "supra-individual" character of collective representations, as opposed to the individual character of the particular subjective representations, highlighting its character and meaning essentially social. Based on this, Durkheim (1912) formulates the main features of collective representations as follows:

Collective representations are the product of a vast extended cooperation not only in time but also in space; a multitude of different spirits have been associated, mixed, combined their ideas and feelings to produce them; large series of generations have accumulated experience and know them. It is concentrated in them something of infinitely richer and more complex intellectual capital very particular that individual. (Durkheim, 1992).

            On the other hand, Lucien Levy-Bruhl, who was a contemporary disciple of Emile Durkheim, conducted its own studies about collective representations; contributing thus to deepen and spread the knowledge of them. From their perspective, and consistent with the ideas of Durkheim, Levy-Bruhl (1947) at the start of his "mental functions in lower societies" [2] defines collective representations as follows:

They are common to the members of a given social group; passed from generation to generation; imposed on individuals, awakening in them, as appropriate, feelings of respect, fear, worship, etc., for its objects. Not up to the individual to exist (Levy-Bruhl, 1947).

You can then also be noted that the definition of Levy-Bruhl as in that of Durkheim argues, in a categorical way the essentially social nature of collective representations. In consequence, and in relation to social dynamics and their relationship with the system of representations, Durkheim in his anthropological conception assumes that "social life includes both representations and practices" (Durkheim, 1992). Nevertheless, it is necessary to clarify the widespread assumption that in societies with a group life regulated by collective representations, there was absolute consistency between its system of representations and social organization. The inconsistency of this idea has been demonstrated by the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, who from their research conducted in Brazil, states that "the sociological representations of indigenous people are not only a part or a reflection of their social organization ; You can completely contradict or ignore certain elements, as in the most advanced societies. "(Levi-Strauss, 1995).

4           The role of collective representations in determining perception and social reality

Levy-Bruhl conceived forms of perception based on a primitive mental structure based on collective representations. Thus, it admitted that representations play a role of mediation between "real" and the social world; so, then, his image of the world (imago mundi) was formed by the interweaving of a number of mediations of symbolic nature. Different societies, then, perceive and inhabit different "worlds", being this distinction based on the representational system that is unique to each society; and responsive, ultimately, the whole of adaptive resources of it. This view is consistent with modern concepts of construction of social reality, which support the theoretical currents constructivist (Berger and Luckmann, 2003; Luhmann, 1998). Thus, the collective representations to change perceptions "include" -in the same-content of its own; producing, thereby building a true reality through said perception. Consequently, through collective representations, different human groups define specific ways their relationship with reality, and reality itself.

This feature of collective representations directly affects the relationship of individuals with objects, and are therefore crucial to their meanings (social), and that through collective representations, according to Levy-Bruhl, "objects of any kind: living beings, inanimate objects, or come out of the man's hand instruments, were not present but loaded with mystical properties. "(Levy Bruhl, 1947). Durkheim also accepts the "constructor" character of collective representations of reality, as it states that in the social domain, "the idea is construction of reality far more than in any other." (Durkheim, 1992). From this, then, Durkheim concluded that "society represents itself and the world around him" (Durkheim, 2003). This constructive phenomenon, in relation to the emerging reality and its inherent characteristics, is mainly due to the fact that, as Durkheim holds:

collective representations attributed, very often, the things that these properties that do not exist in any degree or preach. The most ordinary object can make a sacred and very powerful being. And yet, though certainly purely ideal, the powers conferred on him and act as if they were real; determine the behavior of men with the same necessity as physical forces. (Durkheim, 1992).

At this point, and for a better understanding of the mechanism should be taken into consideration the observations of Carl Jung on this fact, that from a strictly psychological point of view (taking into account human archetypal dimension, as will be seen below) argues that "all primitive magic and religion are based on the magical influences emanating from the object, which originate in the projections of unconscious contents of the object." (Jung, 1954). Thus, according to Durkheim, and because the extent of this phenomenon, it happens that "religious beliefs are merely a special case of a general law. All social media appears to us as populated by forces actually exist only in our minds. "(Durkheim, 1992).

It is clear, then, that this phenomenon is not restricted to the case of religious beliefs, but covers the broad set of collective representations. Also, the constructivist conception of "reality" already present in the original theory of collective representations. The basis of this fact is based, as is clear from the ideas of Durkheim (1992), in which the immediate data of sensible intuition rarely received and interpreted as such, in their "natural" objective dimension, but this data They are modified and related based on both individual and group specific mental provisions. These give rise eventually to collective representations; which, once incorporated and via reflective determine a specific decoding mode reality world outside again. However, the fact that they are a result of the human spirit does not remove them, in Durkheim's conception, its own dimension of reality; and can be found here as well, so one of the principles of what modern psychology calls "psychic reality." On the other hand, that this series of events which culminate in the possibility of a social construction of reality takes place, it was necessary, in principle, that a new way of thinking emerged during the process of development of human consciousness: it is the collective thought (Durkheim, 1992). So, is the collective thought that, through its system of representations, enabling new ways of viewing reality; that is, to build a new reality. And this is the level of reality that determines, finally, actions and patterns of relationship of individuals to one another and with the world around them. Thus, you may find these ideas of Durkheim basic principles of human symbolic reality, and therefore also of social constructivism.

5           Collective representations and religion

Another important consideration is the relationship between collective representations and religion. According to Durkheim says, "the first systems of representations that man has made ​​about the world and himself are of religious origin" (Durkheim, 1992). This is also confirmed more specifically, to argue that "religious representations are collective representations which express collective realities." (Durkheim, 1992). This statement makes it clear, therefore, that collective representations and religion share a common origin link. On the other hand, this gives religion also an important role in setting the symbolic and imaginary world. Since religious beliefs are systems of representations, then it is also that, since time immemorial, "are religious beliefs that have replaced the world as perceived by the senses a different world." (Durkheim, 1992).

Thus, religious representations have played throughout the history of mankind, a key role in shaping the world as we know it today. The scope of this feature are of such importance that many of the activities of modern man are still linked, or are rooted in different religious systems. For example, Durkheim ensures that:

the realities that at that time religious speculation concerns are the same that will later be the subject of scientific thought: it is the nature of man, of society. [...] This is what is to link things together, establish internal relations between them, classify, systematize. We have seen even the basic notions of logic have a religious origin. [...] Scientific thinking is just a more sophisticated form of religious thought. (Durkheim, 1992).

It can be seen here, clearly, the role of religion as a classification system, systematizing of reality, which provides an order to the world (and through which builds); and the relationship of continuity between religious thought and science. Thus, then, religion "is not just a system of practices; It is also a system of ideas whose purpose is to express the world "(Durkheim, 1992). Religious representations have also allowed to draw a distinction between two levels of reality, which still remain in the present. There are two qualitatively different "regions" of the symbolic world, two planes phenomenological experience, that consciousness is able to move at different times and contexts. They correspond to the plane of the sacred and the profane plane. Durkheim distinguishes and relates -through beliefs and religious representations as follows: "Religious beliefs are the representations which express the nature of sacred things and the relations that either each other, either profane things . "(Durkheim, 1992). Also, in relation to the sacred, clarifies and defines the function of the rites, understanding that these are rules of conduct that establish the requirements of the way in which man should behave in relation to sacred things. (Durkheim, 1992).

It is also important to emphasize that collective representations and religious beliefs also have a function of group cohesion; allowing, through them, that different individuals of a particular social group can coordinate their actions and practices, based on the fundamental fact common to experience, shared situations, from a convergent decoding and interpreting reality and world, which is based on the existence of a system of (collective) representations of common origin. As a result, according to Durkheim, the union of individuals of that group is due to the fact that "are represented in the same way the sacred world and its relations with the secular world, and because they translate this common representation in identical practices." ( Durkheim, 1992).

6           The psychological dimension of collective representations: its relationship with the archetypes and the collective unconscious

From conceptualization by Durkheim's collective consciousness, it is also necessary to establish its relationship with the differentiation and individual consciousness. This raises, in Durkheim theory, the conception of the idea of "two consciousnesses" which is characterized by a clear distinction between individual and collective aspects of the personality aspects. This differentiation is made, for Durkheim, as follows:

There are two consciousnesses in us: one only contains personal statements to each of us and that distinguish us, while the states comprising the other they are common to the whole society. The first represents only our individual personality and is; the second represents the collective type and therefore society, without which there exist. (Durkheim, 2004).

This original development of Emile Durkheim in the field of anthropology and sociology, emerge again some years later in the theoretical currents of depth psychology: first, psychological theory Carl G. Jung (Jung, 1990), where It establishes an opposition between Ego (/ consciousness) of individual nature, and the collective unconscious, purely collective nature; then, the second topic of psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud (Freud, 1992), in 1923, where the opposition is drawn between the system I (essentially personal nature) and the superego, a system characterized mainly by be the depositary of the rules, requirements, and social values ​​of the time.

In 1916, Carl Jung (Jung, 1990) introduced a formal way the concept of collective unconscious, the cornerstone of his psychological theory. Through this concept, Jung refers to a dimension of psychic structure that transcends the sphere of personal biographical experience of the subject, having traced the origin of it in the phylogenetic history of man. As content and structural elements of the collective unconscious, Jung also introduces the notion of archetype. In relation to this, Jung (Jung, 1970) also draws a distinction and differentiation between a personal unconscious (the contents are complex) and the collective unconscious, which differ not only for its content but also for its structure and its history evolutionary. In relation to the collective unconscious, Jung says:

the unconscious is not individual but universal nature, that is, that in contrast to the individual psyche has contents and modes of behavior that are, cum grano salis, the same everywhere and in all individuals. In other words, it is identical to itself in all men and thus constitutes a foundation of existing supra-psychic nature in every man. (Jung, 1970).

With regard to the archetypes, fundamental constituent elements of the collective unconscious, it argues that they are a "formal element, empty itself, which is but a praeformandi facultas a priori given form of representation possibility." (JUNG , 1970). Also clarifies, as it has existed on this confusion that still stands at present, in relation to the archetypes no representations are inherited, but the forms. Therefore, says Jung, "is not then inherited representations about but representations of possibilities. "(Jung, 1970). Thus, the archetypes also function as true" representations computers "(Jung, 1970), operating at an unconscious level. It should be noted here, that level of awareness psychic, archetypes can only manifest as images, representations; and representative contents consist of material that can come from both internal psychic world, and outside the phenomenal world. In this sense, and because of that, also archetypes "said certain way to all the activity of fantasy" (Jung, 1970).

            But the concept of archetype not only includes individual psychic sphere in the strict sense, but expands its presence to a wide range of collective phenomena of various kinds, which are independent of time and place. On a broader definition of archetypes, Jung says, "means such specific forms and allegorical series that are in an analogous manner at all times and regions, as well as in individual dreams, fantasies, visions and ideas delusional. "(Jung, 1954).

Furthermore, archetypes are also defined by Jung as "typical forms of behavior that, when they become aware, manifest as representations" (Jung, 1970). In this way, the concept of archetype linked the psychic aspects imaginales- representational with behavioral and action aspects. Perhaps one of the best examples that can be named in this particular correspondence, and collectively, is the intimate binding relationship between myth, ritual, and religion. In this regard, it should be noted that Jung also called archetypes as "mythological subjects" (Jung, 1954).

In terms of evolutionary phylogenetic origin, Jung says that archetypes have become over countless generations, so that "gradually formed in the ancestral series by the repetition of experiences." (Jung, 1954). In Here, also becomes necessary to mention and highlight Durkheim's ideas about the formation of collective representations, which states that "large series of generations have accumulated experience and know them." (Durkheim, 1992) .

7            Archetypes and collective representations    

There is, from the perspective of Jungian depth psychology, a close relationship between the concepts of collective unconscious, archetype, myth, mystical collective representation and participation. The look and Jungian analysis on the deep psychological aspects inherent in some of the central themes of anthropology and sociology, have allowed to clarify and explain, from an archetypal psychological perspective, many of the features that Durkheim and Levy-Bruhl him They have been attributed to the collective and the phenomenon of mystical participation performances.

First, they clarified the relationship between collective representations of Durkheim, and concepts of archetype and the collective unconscious of Jung. Alluding to the collective unconscious contents, which are archaic or primitive type, Jung says, "can be applied to unconscious contents expression" Représentations collectives "which Levy-Bruhl used to designate the symbolic figures of the primitive world view, as in principle refers almost the same. "(Jung, 1970)

It is therefore clear that, for Jung, the collective representations are part of the collective unconscious; so, by his own definition of the contents of the collective unconscious, collective representations are, both in terms of structural and functional, archetypes . However, Jung makes it clear that to the extent that collective representations are subjected to some kind of working by the consciousness, the term "archetype" can only apply to them indirectly. ( Jung, 1970)

Actually, this situation is no different from the one in which, with a high degree of specificity, it is designated as " archetypal image "to that archetypal image or representation has reached the level of consciousness, and" archetype "to that structure , strictly nature unconscious , from which said images or archetypal representations originated. Thus, the "collective representation" may well refer to the conscious level reaching those structures that, archetypal level, are present in the deep layers of the primitive collective psyche. However, this clarification should be considered both under the name of "collective representation", such as "archetypal image", referring to a series of symbolic representational forms, in all cases, they have their roots in the stratum collective unconscious of the psyche.

It is precisely because of its relationship with the archetypal psychic structure and dynamics, which, according to Jung these collectives Représentations "have always represented psychic transformation processes in the form of mythological themes." ( Jung, 1970). They are obtained here, then, two important conclusions: a) collective representations represent mental processes of transformation, b) these mental processes are represented in the form of mythological themes . Thus it is established a clear link between collective representations , the mental processes (which include the archetypes of the collective unconscious), and myths .

8           The mystical participation, as Carl Jung

As a psychological process, the mystical participation was described by the psychology of Carl Jung, being understood by it, primarily a assimilative rapport between the psyche and the surrounding world, founded basically primitive mechanisms of projection and identification . Accordingly, Jung argues that:

The natural condition of the spirit presupposes the existence of these projections; project is natural and innate unconscious contents. This creates in the relatively early that feature individual merger with the object, which Levy-Bruhl rightly designated as "mystical identity" or "mystical participation." (Jung, 1954).

The projection basically consists of a psychological mechanism whereby the contents of the unconscious are deposited and collected on other people or objects. This process is a spontaneous and natural phenomenon of the unconscious psyche, whose most immediate consequence is that the perception of objects and the surrounding environment is not "objectively" but subjectivized is due to the simultaneous perception (as an attribute of the object ) of those qualities, content, values ​​and characteristics (typical of the unconscious of the subject) that were placed on them as a result of the screening. Thus, in the mystical participation, the subject is unable to carry out a clear distinction between himself and the object; therefore. "what happens outside also happens inside, and what happens happens also inside out" ( . JUNG, 2004) It is important to note here that the subject is not aware of this process; the projection is a mechanism unconscious . Due to the projection, individuals draw imaginary relations with the world, from an objective point of view, are not part of that.

In this way, and through mystical participation , it becomes possible to realize one of the most primitive and fundamental human, that allows to carry out psychological, too, the layout of the original original relationship between the psyche and the religion .

9           Psychology and Religion: an archetypal perspective

From the perspective of analytical psychology of Carl Jung, archetypal and mythological dimension of the psyche it is closely linked to the phenomenology of religion . From this perspective, religion is a phenomenon belonging to the field psychic , and therefore its importance goes far beyond those meanings that relate exclusively to matters of faith, practice or belief; and they deepen its structural roots to the very origins of humanity and the early development of society. Therefore, Jung formula "in the psychological reality, religious ideas do not rest merely on tradition and faith but result from archetypes" ( Jung, 1970); It is noting also that, precisely because of its structural and functional archetypal character, these religious issues retain a high degree of autonomy in their operation because "archetypes always exist and act; itself need not have any faith "( Jung, 1970).

On the other hand, for Jung, because the religious representations are directly related to the archetypes , it happens that "can also count on the existence in all men of normal religious factors, or archetypes" ( JUNG, 1970 .) Thus, it becomes evident that the religious dimension corresponds to a functional and structural level standard of human beings; ie present in all men. Do not forget that for Durkheim, as already mentioned, the first collective representations systems are systems of religious representations. Thus, it also demonstrates, again, the relationship between collective representations, religion, and archetypes. Therefore, it can be argued that the scale religious is primarily a dimension archetypal . And so, it is also inseparable from human psychic reality, to the point that through its vast and complex array of images and symbols, "religion, certainly, is one of the earliest and universal manifestations of the human soul" ( Jung, 1949).

That is why also, according to Jung (1949), "Religion has a very significant psychological aspect" ( Jung, 1949); so much so that he maintains there are facts which demonstrate "the existence of a genuine religious function in the unconscious" ( Jung, 1949). In this way, too, it is possible to speak of a true "religious symbolism of unconscious processes "( Jung, 1949). Depending on the circumstances, in relation to the links between the religious dimension and psyche, one can conclude-as Jung says that "religion is a special attitude of the human spirit" ( Jung, 1949).

This particular relationship between psyche and religion also requires, as well, to the psychological sciences often redefine their perspective and conceptualization about the importance of the religious dimension is for dynamism, functionality, development and evolution of the human psyche. And this also necessarily implies a reformulation of the place and importance-as object of study-religious phenomenology within the conceptual and epistemological framework of these sciences. That is why Jung ( 1949 ) argues that:

all kinds of psychology that deals with the psychological structure of the human personality, will at least consider that religion is not only a sociological or historical phenomenon, but also an important personal issue for increased number of individuals. ( Jung, 1949).

Another important point to consider in relation to the archetypal links between psyche and religion, is concerning the phenomenology of spirit . The "spirit" holds Jung (1970), also it corresponds to a psychic phenomenon linked to the dynamics of the archetypes, because, under certain conditions, "the emergence of archetypes has declared numinous character, if you do not want call "magic", should be called spiritual. " ( Jung, 1970).

And together with the archetypes-and linked to them-and also determining a major psychological and social functions of religion , it is also possible to find, as a constituent part of human psychological level, an extensive array of images and religious symbols . The same, says Jung (1954), "enable man to erect a spiritual position antagonistic to the primitive instinctual nature, a cultural attitude toward mere instinctivity. Such was always the function of all religions " JUNG, 1954). Thus, the spirit appears positioned as a complementary polarity of instinct ; also resulting in close proximity to the plane of religious function and psychic dynamism in general.

Finally, around the archetypal, religious, and spiritual, also appears necessarily the problem linked to the ontological dimension of the idea of God . The position of Jung (1954) is quite enlightening about further stating that this problem must necessarily be an object of study contemplated by psychology. Jung based his argument on the basis that "in physics can do without a concept of God, but in psychology, the notion of divinity is a definite factor to be reckoned with, as well as with the notions of" affection "," instinct "," mother ", etc." ( Jung, 1954). In many passages of his work, Jung insists that it is not to argue or prove the existence or non-existence of "God", as this is ultimately a problem of another kind. What is, instead, is to recognize the reality (and their phenomenological scope) of the presence of the thought or image of "God" in the human psyche. This undeniable fact of archetypal nature, has been reiterated again and again, in all times and in all places. Thus, according to Jung (1954), "in eternal confusion between object and imago lies the inability to differentiate between "God" and imago of "God" "( Jung, 1954). So what archetypal psychology is concerned is the presence of the image of God in the psyche, like its effects, its manifestations, their relationships, their functions, and all those phenomena that fit direct or indirect, they are somehow related to the image. The problem is restricted, so the psychological effect of an imago ; then not involving, as part thereof, a possible entity itself .

10      Myth, psyche and society

Exploring the interrelationships between archetypes, psyche and religion requires consideration as an adjunct necessary, the inclusion of two additional levels of symbolic representation: the myth and the society .

Throughout history, man has visions had about the world and reality have undergone substantial changes. Every worldview has always needed including a conceptual reference that legitimize and enable its continuity. Myths and religions; beliefs, dogmas and laws; philosophical and political systems; ideologies and scientific theories; They are part of the complex symbolic structure that operates as arranger and organizer of various support forms that acquire, in a historical time and place, human societies.

Since the notions of collective consciousness and collective representations , Emile Durkheim (2004/2003), the idea of a social / reality world as a result of construction, from the collective intervention referential structures and symbolic systems, has in the Today a wide theoretical foundation.

Symbolic universes            

In the so-called "primitive" [3] societies much of their social organization it is based on basis of mythology and religion; or, more specifically, based on the set of representations that structure their "symbolic universes". The concept of symbolic universe is used within the field of sociology, by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann (2003) to refer to particular having companies organize their internal structure, allowing integration, functionality and social cohesion through of different forms of legitimacy. According to these authors, the symbolic universes are "bodies of theoretical tradition that integrate different areas of meaning and cover the institutional order in a symbolic totality" (Berger and Luckmann, 2003).

The constitution of these universes, the fundamental stage of social organization, gives rise to a scenario with specific characteristics within which social life unfolds according to certain guidelines that are preset from the moment of its creation. A limit that marks an "inside" and "outside" of society, creating a system of interactions governed by principles that are proper and that the identified set. Well, Berger and Luckmann argue that:

all institutional sectors, however, form part of a general framework, which now constitutes a universe in the literal sense of the word, because it is possible to conceive that all human experience takes place inside of him. ( Berger and Luckmann , 2003)

This structuring of the symbolic universes is one of the main steps in the social construction of reality , as from the moment of its inception it excluded, for social actors belonging to a community, any other alternative that is external reference the limits of the universe. The established universe is "closed" on itself, and any possibility of significance is restricted to the space of the meanings of its own. Thus, according to Berger and Luckmann, "the symbolic universe is conceived as the matrix of all the meanings socially objectified and subjectively real; all historical society and the biography of an individual are seen as events that occur within this universe. "( Berger and Luckmann , 2003). Thus, the "mother of all meanings socially objectified" occurs, in the eyes of an observer, in the form of a "world".

The myth and social reality matrix

In the late nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century, the study of myths and religions had taken a particular interest from various disciplines, among which mainly emphasized the anthropology, sociology and psychology. With approaches and theories often disparate and antagonistic, each of these branches of knowledge believed to elucidate the fundamental aspects of this particular human construction. Beyond the respective definitions and interpretative differences that distanced, these currents have recognized, however, the importance that the myth has had-and has-in the historical development of society; or, more specifically, in terms of modern sociology, the place and role of myth in the construction of social reality .

Mircea Eliade (1992) refers to the function of myth in "traditional societies" or "primitive", "societies where myth has, or has had in recent times-up" life "in the sense of providing models human and so confer the same meaning and value to life. conduct "( Eliade , 1992). According to Eliade, "the main function of myth is to reveal the role models of all rites and significant human activities. So food or marriage as work, education, art or wisdom" ( Eliade , 1992).

It can be seen in the definitions Eliade gives traditional societies, the role and function that myths play in them, as referring to the rationale and justification of behaviors and activities that take place in this social context. The myth, as "extremely complex cultural reality" ( Eliade , 1992), exercised social, psychological and cognitive level a decisive influence on the members of a community, since, according to Eliade, "the myth is regarded as a sacred history and hence a "true history", since it always refers to realities. "( Eliade , 1992). And this also has its effect directly on the value of the objects and actions. According says Mircea Eliade (1993), in his book "The myth of the eternal return":

objects in the outside world, both, incidentally, as human acts themselves, do not have autonomous intrinsic value. An object or an action take on a value and, thus, become real , because they participate in one way or another, a reality that transcends them. ( Eliade , 1993).

And in this sense, the myth represents constituye- -and this transcendent reality. Thus, the mythic reality and merge worldly experience in the form of a coherent integration that manifests as a " reality "that covers the whole of existence, and beyond which all other possibilities are exhausted phenomenological knowledge, experience and action. The myth thus becomes, in the symbolic mediator instance that determines the forms of world and its interpretation.

Due to its characteristics, the framework resulting from the mythic reality is a symbolic universe. According to Berger and Luckmann (2003), "we can say with certainty that mythology is the most archaic form for the maintenance of universes, and indeed represents the most archaic form of legitimacy in general." ( Berger and Luckmann , 2003) . Consequently, following his line of thought, also add in relation to this that "this conception naturally involves a high degree of continuity between the social and cosmic order, and among all their legitimation: all reality appears as made ​​of the same matter. "( Berger and Luckmann , 2003). Thus, the links between myth and legitimacy realize the importance of this "reality" is to establish the social order; as well as the manner in which the same are articulated, on another level, with political and ideological aspects of society.

In this connection, from a structuralist perspective, also Claude Levi-Strauss (1995) understands that "orders" designed "for the realm of myth and religion. One can ask whether the political ideology of contemporary societies but also belongs to this category. "( Levi-Strauss , 1995). This formulation is based Levi-Strauss that, according to this author, exist in society a set of structures corresponding to different types of "orders" ( Levi-Strauss , 1995). So, it draws a distinction between lived orders and orders designed . The orders experienced are independent of representation that men have of reality, ie, "in turn are a function of an objective reality" ( Levi-Strauss , 1995). Instead, the "structures of order" conceived "[...] do not directly correspond to any objective reality." ( Levi-Strauss , 1995).

Depending Apparently, it is necessary to strip the myth then any "naive" or "childish" nature (in terms of human history), with which it has been tried many times interpreted from different disciplines. Nor can imagine the development of mythical thinking as merely the result of chance and irrational human spontaneity, because, say Berger and Luckmann (2003), the most elaborate "mythological systems strive to eliminate inconsistencies and maintain the mythological universe in terms theoretically integrated. "( Berger and Luckmann , 2003).

If the myth as we have seen, possible to shape and build relevant aspects of social reality (such as objects and actions ), the question to be dealt with now is how the myth acquires its own way, how it is structured and sustains Over time, and through what mechanisms contribute to the construction of reality / world of which we are a part. Also, if one considers that this level of reality corresponds to the mythical space, with all its images and symbols, it is necessary to investigate what the support and vehicle of this reality, allowing it acquires the character of common experience / collectively, to the members of a society. And it is here then where again be considered the role and importance of the psychological dimension of archetypal myths.

Myths, archetypes and collective unconscious

While throughout history the myth has taken shape through social objectification as rites, religion, architecture, institutions, art, literature, music, etc., the myth is associated, from its origins and psychologically, to the collective representations ; ie also-as has been seen, to the archetypes and the collective unconscious . This produces naturally a point between the different social planes linked to the myth, the archetypal and psychological level. That is why Jung says that "the essential content of all mythologies, of all religions [...] is archetypal nature" ( Jung, 1970).

Also, noted that as archetypes are manifested psychic level in each person on an individual basis (eg, in dreams ), another level, social-collective order, which "appear as archetypes myths the history of peoples "( Jung, 1970). And this is mainly because "the myths are primarily psychic manifestations that reflect the nature of the soul." ( Jung, 1970). This correlation and parallelism between psychological level and social-collective level is of such a nature that Jung sometimes also referred to archetypes as " mythological subjects " ( Jung, 1970). And that is why we also states that "the soul contains all pictures that have emerged myths" ( Jung, 1970), giving place and, to a conceptualization of myth as a "representation of psychological facts" ( JUNG, 1954 .) Thus by way of conclusion, we can say that, as Jung (1954) states:

to the extent that the myth is nothing but a projection of the unconscious, and in no way a conscious invention, not only is it that whenever we meet these mythological themes, but also the myth represents typical psychic phenomena. (Jung, 1954).


11      Final Thoughts

As has been revealed through the analysis, along history the origin and development of religions, myths, societies and the psyche, they have shared -and still comparten- symbolic levels that are common .

The existence of a substrate archetypal nature that shapes and determines the structure and processes of psychic and social dynamism, appears as an integrating symbolic dimension, comprising the vast horizon of human phenomenological experience.

The psychological theory of Carl Jung provides, through its archetypal perspective, a set of conceptual resources that enable and facilitate the analysis and understanding of this symbolic dimension, allowing make visible -and also facilitating their interpretation-the complex interrelationships between religion, myth, psyche and society.

Thus, through the fundamental notions of archetype and the collective unconscious , shapes, structures and psycho-social functions of religion, myth, psyche and society, no longer appear as autonomous and independent events, but as the Pop-up one and the same psycho-socio-evolutionary process that, over time and as interdependent parts necessary, integrates them.



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[1] The concept of "collective representation" has inspired Durkheim, from a contemporary psychosocial perspective, and keeping their core conceptual aspects and scope, the theory of social representations , Serge Moscovici (1979).

  [2] Regarding the use of the term "lower" to designate particular kinds of traditional societies, Levy-Bruhl explains that: "Through this improper term, but almost indispensable job, try to appoint only members the simpler societies that are known ". (Levy-Bruhl, 1947)

  [3] Levi-Strauss also in relation to the controversial use of the term, explains: "Despite all its imperfections and despite deserved criticism, it seems clear that the term" primitive ", for lack of a better one, has assumed a definitive place in contemporary ethnological and sociological vocabulary. "( Levi-Strauss , 1995)


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