Re: Epigenetic rules, archetypes, memes, culturgens

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Fri 20 Feb 2004 - 04:23:15 GMT

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    At 11:52 AM 19/02/04 -0500, you wrote:
    >I am trying to track down credible scholarship that compares and contrasts
    >the epigenetic rules of Lumsden and Wilson with Jung's archetype concept.

    I did a bit of searching and could not find anything.

    >Based on the respective rationales of Lumsden and Wilson, on the one hand,
    >and Jung, on the other, would it be fair to say that archetypal images and
    >symbols, memes, and culturgens recur in cultural artifacts because
    >archetypes and epigenetic rules heighten the probabilities that these
    >images and symbols will become expressed in some form?

    I don't really think there is much in the way of common elements. I am moderately familiar with Lumsden and Wilson, though I have not looked at their book for a few years. Jung I am less familiar with.

    Jung and Freud started what will eventually be seen as cult movements. What they thought and said was far less important than the way they treated patients. Both of them and the less famous psychologists who followed, engaged their patients with intense attention. This causes the release of pleasure chemicals in the target of the attention and in some people leads to a condition essentially like drug addiction. Controlled studies have since found that psychoanalysis has no effect on anything that can be subjectively measured. Of course testimonials for highly rewarding experiences are very easy to obtain.

    On the other hand, anyone who starts a movement has an instinctive feeling for human psychology no matter what they write down.

    >If anyone out there knows of someone who has tackled this question, please
    >point me in the right direction Thanks in advance,

    You might take a look here:

    [starting in the middle of page 12]

    One of the more interesting chapters in this book is by Anthony Stevens and called ‘Jungian Analysis and Evolutionary Psychotherapy: An Integrative Approach’. His starting point is again the claim that EP can unify the various human sciences within the Darwinian theoretical perspective. He goes so far as to remark that ‘it is unlikely that any psychological explanation will prosper if it is incompatible with the Darwinian evolutionary consensus’ (p. 94). However, Stevens does not wish to see a century or more of psychoanalytic practices and insights discarded. In particular, he is concerned with recovering Jungian psychoanalysis and integrating it with the evolutionary approach. He compares Jung’s conception of archetypes—innate structures that make up the ‘collective unconscious’ inherited from previous generations—that shape how people react to, perceive and behave in different contexts, with the ‘innate strategies’ (p. 94) conceived of by evolutionary psychologists. Although Stevens considers Jung’s grasp of Darwinism to have been less than sound, his understanding of evolved structures in human psychology is of significance; it explains, Stevens suggests, why Jung’s ideas were opposed by other psychoanalysts (who worked within the SSSM that rejects the role of biology in human nature). In order to integrate Jungian psychoanalysis into an evolutionary framework, a few modifications in terminology are needed, so that the
    ‘collective unconscious’ is replaced by ‘phylogenetic psyche’ (p. 98). Unfortunately, it seems that few Jungians are willing to participate in Stevens’ project to integrate, rather than synthesize, the Jungian approach with the evolutionary one. One is left with the impression that this project amounts to a colonization of similar character to that which Hilary Rose discussed in relation to the social sciences.


    I am not at all sure that the concept of archetypes will survive, while the concept that humans have evolved psychological traits such as the ability to capture-bond (Stockholm Syndrome) will.

    If there is a relation between memes and archetypes, it would be manifested in the ease with which humans learn certain classes of complicated memes.

    Keith Henson

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