The Process of Soul

The Process of Soul

Ad Parnassum, by Paul Klee

Process philosophy has much to offer the Soul spelunker. One thing I have always felt was lacking in both analytical and archetypal psychology is a sound metaphysical foundation. In my spelunking, I believe I have stumbled across the missing link, at least in my mind. Although I studied the process philosophers, such as Alfred North Whitehead, in college, I did not spend sufficient time with them to make the connection between process philosophy and what I was gleaning then from C.G. Jung and James Hillman. Now, I have had an epiphany, albeit not an original insight, but an epiphany for me personally, nevertheless.

James Hillman saw the connection before I. In 1983, Hillman gave the keynote address at the Claremont Graduate School, where Jungian and archetypal analysts gathered together with process philosophers for dialogue. Hillman stated that David Bohm had seen the problem even earlier:

Bohm admitted frankly and sadly that physics had released the world into its perishing, and that physicists had neither learning nor ability to think the world out of its peril…we saw that our plight was way beyond the discipline of the men who had advanced this plight…The physical threat of the end of the world results from a metaphysical catastrophe (Archetypal Process: Self and Divine in Whitehead, Jung, and Hillman, p. 215).

David Bohm should know. He was one of the physicists that changed our world forever. Hillman’s goal was to find a metaphysical basis for the process of Soul, or what Keats called, “soul-making.” The metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead, from what I’ve read so far, is suited for just such a task. I also believe the philosophy of Giordano Bruno, who I am certain influenced Whitehead, will eventually play a large role in anchoring archetypal and analytical psychology in the bedrock of truth.

Why is process philosophy so appropriate for a metaphysics of Soul? The primary reason lies in the seminal thought of the Father of Process Philosophy, Heraclitus. Many of us are familiar with the famous statement attributed to the “weeping philosopher”, “No man ever steps in the same river twice.” This statement epitomizes the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. According to Hillman, Heraclitus may have been the first depth psychologist (The Dream And The Underworld, p. 25). The reason being that Heraclitus made Soul the starting-point for his thinking.

An archetypal metaphysics would need to recognize the imaginal as foundational, the validity and power of myth, and the return of Soul to its place of prominence in human endeavor. The world is ripe for the return of Soul to the mainstream.

I am just getting into process philosophy, so let us see what may come out of it. I am anxious to examine my image of the Maelstrom of Soul, and my animaterialism in light of what I am learning from Whitehead. Stay tuned.

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