Archetypal Panpsychism: Whitehead, Jung, and Hillman

This upcoming weekend, on January 20 and 21, Matthew Segall and I will be presenting together for the Idaho Friends of Jung in Boise on “Archetypal Panpsychism: Whitehead, Jung, and Hillman.”

Together we will make the case that a Whiteheadian cosmology is not only compatible with archetypal psychology, but provides a metaphysical foundation for key concepts of the latter—such as the collective unconscious, synchronicity, and archetypes—which are otherwise difficult to account for in a materialist view of the cosmos. Whitehead’s cosmology is often described as “panpsychist,” which means that psyche, far from being exclusively human, pervades the cosmos. Those inspired by Jung, we believe, will also find spiritual and intellectual nourishment from Whitehead’s philosophy.

Matt and I will be offering a lecture on Friday evening from 7:00-9:00 pm, and a workshop on Saturday from 10:00 am-1:00 pm. If you are in the Boise area, please see the website of the Idaho Friends of Jung for further details.


For those who are interested, I have several other presentations and events coming up in 2017 and 2018. For information on these engagements please see my Calendar of Events page, which I will continue to keep up to date.

14 Replies to “Archetypal Panpsychism: Whitehead, Jung, and Hillman”

  1. Wow Becca. Three of my favorite men. Visionary, radical and equally profound. And in such a beautiful state. Wish I could be there. Have a wonderful presentation!

  2. Becca and Matt, congratulations for wonderful presentation topic, if you would have a video or audio of what you are planning to offer, please share : ) By the way, would love to join the PCC group mailing list, I used to be on it, but unsubscribed myself when I moved to Israel, would love to join again, do you have any idea how? Thank you, Natalie >

  3. I wonder if you have considered the connection between Whitehead and Pirsig in relation to the origin of the psyche? For Whitehead reality consists of overlapping events which he often calls ‘values’. With a nod to the logical idea of them being ‘values of variables’ he is really thinking of them as being evaluations. Each of these evaluations has two poles, one forward looking and selecting from future possibilities, one is backward looking and takes account of previous evaluations. God is also envisaged as di-polar in the same way having both a primordial and a consequent nature. The primordial nature selects from possibilities in an unconditioned way and the consequent nature is the all encompassing result of the totality of selections. These two natures correspond well to what Pirsig called ‘Dynamic’ and ‘Static’ quality, with the psyche consisting of events in which the repeated evaluation and pursuit of changing dynamic quality results in the birth or laying down of static, or enduring, quality. Interestingly, both Whitehead and Pirsig regard the current account of evolution in terms of ‘natural selection’ as being inadequate for reasons which have been strongly reinforced by the more recent recognition of phenomena like ‘irreducible complexity’ and molecular machines. Rather than proposing the alternative of ‘intelligent design’, however, they can be seen as offering the suggestion that evolution advances not by an algorithm of natural selection but by a non-mechanical process of ‘aesthetic selection’; survival, perhaps, not of the fittest but of the fitting. There’s actually a historical connection between Whitehead and Pirsig through F.S.C Northrop, whom Whitehead influenced and who influenced Pirsig. Pirsig doesn’t note his own overlap with Whitehead because, when looking for historical antecedents, he used Copleston as his main historical guide and Copleston explicitly decided not to give any substantial treatment of Whitehead in his landmark history of philosophy.

    1. Hi Dermot, Thanks for these reflections. It has been many years since I read Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” or “Lila.” I agree that the are many parallels between Pirsig’s approach to Quality and Whitehead’s ontological understanding of value as intrinsic to the process of realization.

  4. do you folks know the book David Griffin edited
    The Archetypal Process: Self and Divine and Whitehead, Jung, and Hillman ?

      1. very good, thanks for the link, as youn know then Hillman was aware of process thought but I think was committed to his own developing relational cosmology, came out more in the later works but always focused on the imaginal as unique in some ways, echoes perhaps of his earlier work for psyche and against the our fascination with the pneuma-nous.
        To tie in with my earlier comment I do wonder if we have caught the academic tic of always referring life/experience back to reference books and not staying with the event-ualites as they unfold as they will?

      2. I do agree with you that it is so important to return to the experience, the phenomenon, the “actual occasions” (just to academically refer to another thinker anyway!)—to be in awe, in wonder with the cosmos and learn from that ultimate teacher.

      3. yes I see that just pointing out that for Hillman the imaginal was a kind unto itself and so you are creating something new which is good.
        Hillman was stuck in an old fashioned sense of the psyche as a kind of self-correcting ecology but couldn’t take into account a contemporary view of systems/ecologies as more open/interpenetrating/leaky and evolving, and he really had no place for entropy so we need to keep building on what he left, hope there is something of use/interest in those for you, cheers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: