Carl Jung - Building Self

Alan Tabor
A Philosopher’s Stone
15 min readAug 17, 2020

Bliss, Disquiet, Enlightenment, and False Satoris

Image from Wikimedia

The apparent religiosity of James and Jung can obscure their fundamental scientific rigor.
-J. Allan Hobson, The Dreaming Brain

Life is not a matter of holding good cards but of playing a poor hand well.
- Robert Lewis Stevenson

This article started as a section in a story looking at the paradoxes of tribalism. I wanted to say all of the below in a few paragraphs.

Then it careened completely out of control.

The big italicized text aren’t quotations but part of the text…a running tl/dr as it were.

I suggest scanning quickly down the page using them to get the lay of the land. If you see something interesting, dig in a bit.

Read time for the big text: 3 minutes.

An Evolutionary Challenge

Carl Jung posited a unifying archetype he termed the Self. He depicts this as a ‘higher self.’

If we set aside the metaphysical, why would such a thing exist?

How would it work?

The earliest single-cell animals were controlled entirely by instinct.

From there, animals evolved increasing behavioral flexibility with a greater role for learning, tactical choices in action, and the assessment of long-term vs short-term benefits.

Homo Sapiens is the most dramatic example of this. We give the largest role to learning, to culture, and to complex planning.

(Hopefully, this evolutionary strategy will work out. Dinosaurs lasted 250 million years; we’re only in at 250 thousand and things are starting to fray.)

Our flexibility comes at a price: instinct kept us unified in our response. But people can go off in all directions at once. People suffer crises of response. People suffer from competing impulses and mixed-emotions. Our right…

Alan Tabor
A Philosopher’s Stone

Berkeley Backpacking Biz Lifer, System Builder, Coder, Community Organizer, Music and Evolutionary Biology Geek. Sign up and my projects at