Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Schopenhauer and Wolfgang Pauli: part two (final)

Three clay tablets with the name Jahweh
"As you well know, when it comes to religion and philosophy, my background is Lao-tse and Schopenhauer (although I could expand the time-conditioned determinism of the latter with the idea of the complementary pairs of opposites and the acausal factor). ... I must confess that specifically Christian religiousness—especially its concept of God—has always left me emotionally and intellectually out on a limb. (I have no emotional resistance to the idea of an unpredictable tyrant such as Jahweh, but the excessive arbitrariness in the cosmos implied in this idea strikes me as an untenable anthropomorphism from the point of view of natural philosophy.) In the Lao-tse world-picture, the problem of evil does not exist, as can be seen particularly in Taoteking no. 5 ("Nicht Liebe nach Mensscenart hat die Natur... [Wilhelm's translation: "Nature's love is not like human love...]) But Lao-tse's whole concept is better suited to the intuitive world-picture of the Chinese, whereas Western science and its perceptions are alien to it. This does not mean that I would go so far as claim that Lao-tse's point of view, however satisfying it seems to me, is the last word on these matters as far as the Western world is concerned. On the other hand, Schopenhauer's philosophy—also because it mediates between the West and East Asia—enables me to have much easier access to your book Aion. For I was always of the opinion that it was precisely the privato boni that was the bone of contention that led Schopenhauer to reject "the θεός," as he called it. Thus Schopenhauer rejects "your θεός" because the evil would inevitably rebound on him. It was precisely this point that made Schopenhauer emotionally appealing to me.

"From a critical point of view, I should like to say myself that what is being rejected here is only the idea of a humanlike consciousness in God. I actually tend to identify Schopenhauer's so-called will (the way he uses this word has not gained currency at all) with the θεός ἀνεννóητος of the Gnostics, which is mentioned on pp. 278-82 of Aion [CW 9ii, pars. 299-304]. Such an "unknowing God" remains innocent and cannot be held morally responsible; emotionally and intellectually the difficulty no longer arises of reconciling with him the existence of sin and evil."

Excerpts of a typewritten carbon copy with handwritten additions from Pauli to Jung, 27 February 1952. op. cit. (yesterday) including my note about published editorial parentheses. (Pauli's footnotes have been omitted here).

Wilhem's translation of the Tao would have been the one available to Pauli but various translations exist today. Some are rather too changed; one even uses "political correctness" in referring to the Master (sage) as alternately "he" or "she" as the sex is not specified in Chinese. I much prefer the Penguin Classics translation which gives for the quoted passage: "Heaven and Earth are ruthless, and treats the myriad creatures as straw dogs; the sage is ruthless and treats the people as straw dogs."

The pertinent passage in Jung's Aion is:
"St. Paul’s concept of ἄγνοɩα (ignorantia) may not be too far removed from ἀγνωσία, since both mean the initial, unconscious condition of man. When God “looked down” on the times of ignorance, the Greek word used here, ὑπεριδών (Vulgate: despiciens) has the connotation ‘to disdain, despise.’ At all events, Gnostic tradition says that when the highest God saw what miserable, unconscious creatures these human beings were whom the demiurge had created, who were not even able to walk upright, he immediately got the work of redemption under way. And in the same passage in the Acts, Paul reminds the Athenians that they were “God’s offspring,”  and that God, looking back disapprovingly on “the times of ignorance,” had sent the message to mankind, commanding “all men every-where to repent.” Because that earlier condition seemed to be altogether too wretched, the μετάνοɩα (transformation of mind) took on the moral character of repentance of sins, with the result that the Vulgate could translate it as “poenitentiam agere.”  The sin to be repented, of course, is ἄγνοɩα or ἀγνωσία, unconsciousness.  As we have seen, it is not only man who is in this condition, but also, according to the Gnostics, the ἀνεννóητος, the God without consciousness. This idea is more or less in line with the traditional Christian view that God was transformed during the passage from the Old Testament to the New, and, from being the God of wrath, changed into the God of Love— a thought that is expressed very clearly by Nicolaus Caussin in the seventeenth century."
Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 9 (Part 2): Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self (pp. 191-192). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.(footnotes omitted here, and I have corrected the typo: "ἀνεννóητς" (which omits the ο).
In his essay: Religion. A Dialogue, (between "Demopheles" and "Philalethes" ) Schopenhauer uses the Gnostic style which Jung also used in his Red Book, and most famously in Seven Sermons to the Dead which descend, in the West,  from Plato's Dialogues, but the Upanishads, too, take the form of such dialogues.

I will wrap up this series on Schopenhauer tomorrow.

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